The resilience of the human body is fascinating, yet it can be defeated by seemingly trivial things. We can blast into space, putting a strain on the body hitherto unheard of, but we get more than one billion colds every year that render us energy-sapped husks for a couple of days. There’s a bodily balance that most people are aware of in themselves that differs from person to person. The FAA clocks 24,833,000 hours of general aviation every year, so we’re going to take a look at the human body versus the soon-to-be longest direct flight we’ve yet to achieve.
We’ve all been on long flights before. Aside from the stress of flying, the lack of movement, poor resting quarters, in-flight food, and gnawing anxiety of being 40,000 feet in the air traveling 500 MPH in a metal tube, flying can be exhausting. That’s why we’re more likely to choose non-stop flights than have to switch planes a couple of times. Approximately half of people enter a business because of signage, but Qantas is going a step beyond in their bold advertising process — if it can be called that. The Australian airline is testing what’s to become the longest non-stop flight on earth. From New York City to Sydney, the flight will be almost 10,000 miles, a little over 19 hours long, and will cross 15 time zones. It will be the first of kind with the goal of going commercial if testing is successful.
As it stands right now, a flight filled with cargo and passengers cannot make that distance. For the test run, there will be 40 Guinea Pig passengers aboard. Named Project Sunrise, the airline will be conducting these test flights in October, November, and December. Passengers will be outfitted with wearable tech that will monitor, according to Sydney University researchers who will also be on board:
“Sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment to asses impact on health, well-being, and body clock.”
Of course, there are myriad of potential issues with being on a flight that long. From jet lag to physical discomfort to poor nutrition, a flight of that distance is certainly no picnic in a puddle jumper. The pilots will also be put to the test and monitored as their full faculties are needed to safely deliver passengers and cargo on a flight that lasts nearly a full day.
Still, there remain plenty of potential benefits of Project Sunrise’s success. Flights like these are largely targeted at business travelers who are on time-crunch schedules that require travel that’s as efficient as possible. This non-stop flight has the potential to take away layovers that are notorious for making what should be a 20-hour flight into a 24-48 hour flight. Layovers can be nightmarish, but with a non-stop option, Qanta is banking on corporations shelling out plenty of money to get their business travel needs aboard those flights. This all has to start with the test flights and those first 40 people who will brave the distance as test subjects.
“There were a lot of expectations around this flight, both within Qantas and the broader community, and frankly it’s exceeded them. There’s plenty of enthusiasm for Sunrise, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up,” said Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce in a statement following the announcement of the test flights.
Once it’s off the ground, we’re certain to hear more about the progress of Project Sunrise. In the meantime, our Sydney vacations are just going to have to take a little bit longer.