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Qantas makes history after the longest non-stop commercial flight touches down…

by Ace Damon
Passengers and crew exercise and practice yoga during the nonstop test flight from New York to Sydney, which landed on Sunday morning.

Qantas made history after its longest direct commercial flight from New York successfully landed in Sydney on Sunday morning.

The test flight, carried out by Australian airline group Qantas, took off from JFK airport at 21h7 on Friday and landed in Sydney at 07h3 on Sunday.

The number of passengers was largely Qantas staff, with restricted numbers to minimize weight aboard the Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

The plane traveled over 10,000 miles without refueling – a feat achieved by no other plane.

After boarding the flight, passengers adjusted their clocks to Sydney time and stayed awake until night fell in eastern Australia with lighting, exercise, caffeine and a spicy lunch instead of the usual dinner.

Six hours later, they received a high-carbohydrate meal sent to avoid screens, and the lights were dimmed to encourage them to sleep through the night.

Passengers and crew exercise and practice yoga during the nonstop test flight from New York to Sydney, which landed on Sunday morning.

Qantas Flight 7879 took off from New York John F. Kennedy Airport at 9 pm on Saturday with 50 passengers and crew on board

Qantas Flight 7879 took off from New York John F. Kennedy Airport at 9 pm on Saturday with 50 passengers and crew on board

The flight lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes and covered 16,200 kilometers. It is the first of three test flights aimed at connecting Australia to destinations such as London and New York.

The flight lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes and covered 16,200 kilometers. It is the first of three test flights aimed at connecting Australia to destinations such as London and New York.

Four pilots were rotated during the flight and two additional pilots who took the aircraft to New York were parked in the cabin.

Four pilots were rotated during the flight and two additional pilots who took the aircraft to New York were parked in the cabin.

Spiced tomato soup was one of the onboard dining options Chinese Roast Beef Rib with Bok Choy, Steamed Rice and Pickles

There were a number of spicy dining options on the flight, including Chinese roast beef with bok choy, steamed rice and pickles (right), and spicy tomato soup (left).

The plane traveled over 10,000 miles from New York to Sydney without refueling - a feat achieved by no other plane.

The plane traveled over 10,000 miles from New York to Sydney without refueling – a feat achieved by no other plane.

The flight took 19 hours and 16 minutes to travel 16,200 kilometers around the world.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We started with lunch and kept the lights on for the first six hours to coincide with the time of day at our destination. This means that you start reducing jet lag immediately.

Passengers received no wine or spirits for lunch, but Mandala 2018 Chardonnay and Leogate Shiraz 2015 were available upon request.

Professor Marie Carroll of the University of Sydney said she and her fellow travelers have done many stretching and group exercises at prescribed intervals.

"I hope they have a normal day today and a normal night's sleep tonight," she said, adding that she felt "incredibly well" considering the flight time.

“It's all an experiment to see if airlines can adjust their food, beverage, exercise, and lighting schedule to match their destination time.

"We made the Macarena in the economy cabin," he added.

The goal of the record flight, called Project Sunrise, was to conduct scientific research on passengers and crew on long-haul flights.

Data will be shared with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help inform regulatory requirements associated with long-haul flights for more than 20 hours.

In the photo: a map showing the travel course followed by the Qantas plane In the photo: a map showing the 16,200 km trip

Pictured: Two maps showing the course of travel the Qantas plane took on the flight it took Friday.

Dr. Tracey Sletten of Alertness CRC taking urine samples to measure flight crew melatonin concentration as an indication of circadian time

Dr. Tracey Sletten of Alertness CRC taking urine samples to measure flight crew melatonin concentration as an indication of circadian time

A cabin crew member conducts a flight test on an iPad during flight, used to conduct long-haul flight behavior research

A cabin crew member conducts a flight test on an iPad during flight, used to conduct long-haul flight behavior research

The historic flight in numbers

Distance: 10,066 miles

Time: 19 hours, 16 minutes

Fuel: 101 tons

When will the flight be in service? 2023

Airplane cost: £ 225 million

Qantas used the test flight to monitor six volunteers to collect data on a variety of variables.

CNBC reported that volunteers were required to keep diaries of their sleep and eating patterns two weeks before the experimental flight.

They were also asked to keep sleep diaries for two weeks after the flight to generate a rounded assessment.

Researchers at the University of Sydney used the space as a laboratory to monitor things like temperatures, lighting schemes, recipes, stretching exercises and the effects of jet lag.

University of Sydney professor Stephen Simpson said the experiment would help researchers understand the contributions to jet lag.

The goal of the record flight, called Project Sunrise, is to conduct scientific research on passengers and crew on long-haul flights.

The goal of the record flight, called Project Sunrise, is to conduct scientific research on passengers and crew on long-haul flights.

Four pilots were rotated during the flight and two additional pilots who took the aircraft to New York were parked in the cabin (photo: a Qantas pilot wearing a headgear)

Four pilots were rotated during the flight and two additional pilots who took the aircraft to New York were parked in the cabin (photo: a Qantas pilot wearing a headgear)

Pilots received special banners to monitor brain activity (photo)

Pilots received special banners to monitor brain activity (photo)

Health risks of long-haul flights

Dehydration: Cabin humidity is usually about 20%, drier than the Sahara desert. Drinking coffee or alcohol makes it even worse. During a ten-hour flight, men can lose up to two liters of water and women around 1.6 liters. Staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol will help your body retain water.

Infection: You are about 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane. Conditions without humidity increase people's vulnerability to infection. Spending up to 20 hours in close contact with others also increases the risk of bacteria spreading.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Prolonged periods of immobility can lead to slow blood flow. The longer the flight, the greater the risk of blood clots. It is recommended that passengers regularly walk around and stretch.

Radiation: Pilots and crew are exposed to high levels of radiation during their frequent flights. They come into contact with the cosmic ionizing radiation from space, which is linked to cancer.

Swelling and bloating: Air pressure can cause a buildup of gas in your body, which can lead to bloating, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.

Dizziness: Lack of oxygen can cause dizziness, headaches and hypoxia.

"We know from the basic science of circadian rhythms that a greater time difference between the places of departure and arrival, and traveling east rather than west, tends to mean that people feel backward," he said.

"But people seem to be totally different when it comes to the jet lag experience – and we need more research into what contributes to jet lag and travel fatigue so we can try to reduce the impact of long-haul flights."

Four pilots were rotated during the flight and two additional pilots who took the aircraft to New York were parked in the cabin.

They were given special banners to monitor brain activity.

Scientists also tested people on board using urine samples to measure levels of melatonin – the hormone that regulates sleep cycles.

Cameras were also mounted inside the cockpit to record the pilots' attention.

A Qantas spokesman said flight testing is "just part of the work we are doing to evaluate how to operate these flights safely."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the likelihood of long-haul flights becoming everyday is "ultimately a business decision."

Joyce also said the flight's success was a historic moment for the airline.

The data collected from these flights will be used to improve health and minimize jet lag and identify optimal crew rest and work periods (photo: employees stretching during long flight)

The data collected from these flights will be used to improve health and minimize jet lag and identify optimal crew rest and work periods (photo: employees stretching during long flight)

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured) said the flight's success was a historic moment for the airline.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured) said the flight's success was a historic moment for the airline.

"This is really a historic moment for Australian aviation and a really historic moment for world aviation," Joyce told a news conference.

"We are the first commercial airline to fly nonstop from New York to Sydney."

If test flight data suggests that direct flights will not pose a risk to crew and passenger health, flights will begin in 2022/23.

Direct flight saved passengers up to four hours in total travel time.

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