The holy grail of aviation is getting closer to becoming a reality. Project Sunrise at Qantas aims to start non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to London and New York.
According to the Qantas CEO, the airline is down to just two choices. An ultra long range version of the Airbus A350-1000 is one, and the other is Boeing’s forthcoming 777-8. Both aircraft should be able to make the distance, so which will it be?
Project Sunrise Boeing 777-8
Featuring larger windows, a wider interior and a whole new composite wing, the 777-8 will be the long range version of Boeing’s large twin. It is slated to have a range of 16,110 kilometres in a typical two class configuration.
This is less than the 17,016 kilometres on the Project Sunrise Sydney to London service, however a more premium configuration and weight savings should put the two cities within reach.
Seven airlines have ordered the new Boeing 777. These are All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.
Most orders are for the larger 777-9 which does not fly quite as far, which is also why this will be the first version in service. The Boeing 777-8 is expected to be available from 2022.
Project Sunrise Airbus A350-1000
The Airbus A350-1000 entered service in February 2018 with Qatar Airways, followed in July by Cathay Pacific. It is the longer range and higher capacity version of the A350 with a range of 15,557 kilometres.
This is less than the 16,013 kilometres between the Project Sunrise Sydney to New York proposal, however again a premium configuration, weight savings and the possibility of extra fuel tanks in the cargo hold should put the two cities within reach.
Several airlines have ordered this version of the aircraft. In addition to the two mentioned above, there is Asiana, British Airways, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, LATAM and Virgin Atlantic on the order list.
Modern and comfortable, the Airbus A350-1000 is made from composite materials, featuring what Airbus call the quietest cabin in the skies. I have flown on board the A350-900 and it is certainly quite excellent.
Qantas state that Project Sunrise has progressed to the request for proposal stage. The decision on aircraft selection will be made in 2019. This should mean the what will become the longest flights in the world start in 2022.
Most Australian people live on the east coast of the country. Being able to fly direct from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to London, New York and possibly other cities will be great. 20 hours on board will be an experience though!
What do you think of this Qantas project? Pipe dream or are you excited about it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.