London-Sydney non-stop Qantas flight pips New York for record

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and flight crew disembark the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Sydney airport. (AP pic)

SYDNEY: Qantas Airways Ltd flew non-stop to Sydney from London in about 19 1/2 hours, a test run for the world’s longest commercial service.

The Boeing Co Dreamliner touched down after 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air, Qantas said today.

Its direct New York-Sydney flight last month – a first by any airline – was 3 minutes shorter.

Qantas is preparing for commercial services on both routes as soon as 2022 and used the trips to investigate ways to reduce passenger jet lag and manage crew fatigue.

Both test flights carried only about 50 people to give the planes the necessary range.

Qantas’s third and final research flight leaves New York for Sydney in December.

Before starting the ultra long-haul services, which Qantas calls Project Sunrise, the airline needs new aircraft that can carry a full payload.

The airline also requires fresh accords with its pilots and Australia’s aviation regulator.

Qantas first started flying between London and Sydney in 1947. It took five days and six stops.

The airline also flew a stripped-down and near-empty Boeing 747 direct from London to Sydney in 1989.