The longest nonstop flight in history has landed Sunday morning in Sydney after more than 19 hours in the air since its departure from New York, a feat that the company Qantas plans to translate soon into commercial success.
Experimental flight QF7879 traveled for exactly 19 hours and 16 minutes, the first of three very long flights planned by the Australian airline this year.
The latter, which will also test a direct between London and Sydney, plans to create regular commercial lines on these long journeys.
Upon arrival, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce welcomed a "truly historic moment", both for his company and for the aviation world as a whole.
"This is the first of three test flights after which we will be able to see what recommendations we can make in relation to how pilots manage their fatigue, and for passengers to manage jet lag," said Mr. Joyce after landing in Sydney. "After 19 hours on this plane I think we did well, I feel like I flew a lot shorter than that."
The Boeing 787-9 party on Friday night from New York's JF Kennedy Airport was carrying only 49 people, mostly Qantas employees. The weight in the cabin was thus reduced, which allowed to board a sufficient amount of fuel for the 16,000 kilometers of the journey.
According to the specialized website flightradar24.com, the aircraft weighed 233 tons on takeoff, including 101 tons of kerosene.
Four pilots took turns flying during the flight.
Researchers from two Australian universities were on board to observe how passengers slept and fed, and to monitor their level of melatonin, the "sleep hormone".
The longest commercial air route in the world is currently a connection between New York and Singapore launched in 2018 by Singapore Airlines, which lasts 18H30 according to the site of the company.
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