Aircraft

First direct Australia to London flight takes off

The Boeing 787-9 lifts off from Perth Airport en route for London
The Boeing 787-9 lifts off from Perth Airport en route for London
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The Boeing 787-9 is 20 percent more efficient than other planes of its size
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The Boeing 787-9 is 20 percent more efficient than other planes of its size
Business Class seats on the Boeing 787-9
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Business Class seats on the Boeing 787-9
Rear view of Business Class seats
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Rear view of Business Class seats
A GEnx engine at GE Aviation’s jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio
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A GEnx engine at GE Aviation’s jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio
Economy Class infotainment system
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Economy Class infotainment system
Boeing 787-9 Economy Class seats
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Boeing 787-9 Economy Class seats
Boeing 787-9 in hangar
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Boeing 787-9 in hangar
The Boeing 787-9 lifts off from Perth Airport en route for London
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The Boeing 787-9 lifts off from Perth Airport en route for London
Crew of the Boeing 787-9 with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce
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Crew of the Boeing 787-9 with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce

In 1947, it took four days and seven stops for a Constellation airliner to fly between London and Australia. Today, history was made as the first non-stop commercial Australia to London regular commercial service, Qantas Flight 9 (QF9), took off from Perth Airport. At a little before 7:00 pm local time, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner left the terminal with over 200 passengers and 18 crew aboard and is expected to land at London's Heathrow Airport at about 5:00 am on Sunday after a 17-hour, 20-minute flight.

In 1935, Qantas and Imperial Airways opened the famous Kangaroo Route between London and Brisbane. The first flights with a handful of passengers took 12 and a half days and 31 stopovers. That may sound arduous, but bear in mind that the only alternative was a six-week voyage by steamship. Over the years, the introduction of sea clippers, jets, and other technological improvements reduced the flying time as well as cost, but it wasn't until the latest technological advances that it was possible to make today's first-ever direct passenger flight.

Key to the 9,000 mile (14,498 km) non-stop journey is the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has been configured to carry 236 passengers and is equipped with sensors to detect and minimize air turbulence, as well as cabin-noise reduction technology. It can carry 92 tonnes of jet fuel for its two GEnx engines and, due in part to extensive use of composites, is claimed to be 20 percent more efficient than any other plane of its size.

Economy Class infotainment system
Economy Class infotainment system

QF9 is the world's third-longest regular commercial route and the longest Dreamliner route. Qantas says the marathon flight involves the study of favorable wind patterns, with different flight paths selected depending on the best winds.

For the flight, there were four pilots on board as well as extra cabin crew – allowing them to rest in shifts in a special crew berths. Qantas also says it has employed new methods to make passengers more comfortable on the long haul while reducing the effects of jet lag.

Before the flight, special stretching exercise sessions were available at the Perth International Transit Lounge. The cabin air pressure was increased from the equivalent of 8,000 ft (2,400 m) to 6,000 ft (1800 m) and special menus were laid on to maintain hydration, help passengers to sleep, and reduce jet lag. The timing of meal services has also been adjusted to help passengers sleep.

The aircraft is named "Emily" after the indigenous Australian artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and its livery is inspired by her works.

A GEnx engine at GE Aviation’s jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio
A GEnx engine at GE Aviation’s jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio

"This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link," says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who is on the flight. "The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap."

Source: Qantas

8 comments
JimFox
Impressive but I'd rather have a stopover to break it into 2 easier flights...
guzmanchinky
Uhhh, talk to me again in 20 years when the first nonstop supersonic flight into low earth orbit makes the same trip in a couple of hours, thanks.
christopher
Seats? Seriously?? Even the peasant-class long-haul busses in China 20 years ago all had lie-down beds in them. So many clueless companies and designers in the world... I bet exactly zero of all the people who made it 20% more efficient, go home and sleep sitting up in a chair all night...
CAVUMark
You want a long flight, search for the Double Sunrise flights in WWII.
Captain Obvious
I recently rode a Dreamliner Newark to Tel Aviv (7+ hours), and can't imagine living in a tin can (OK, plastic) twice that long. Ugh.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
When this turns into an old airplane, like the Boeing 737, it may result in another stepwise decrease in air fares, like the advent of jets.
c2cam
@CAVUMark - I checked out the Double Sunrise. Very interesting bit of history - thanks for sharing.
Nik
Jet lag? Trivial! What have they done to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which is a potential killer? Compared to early passenger flights, between the wars, these planes are just flying, well packed, sardine cans. For instance, they could install massage machines within the seats, and areas to stretch and exercise, but that might affect profits of course! Even on trains, its possible to buy sleeper units on long journeys, why not on planes? One fore and aft, three seat space, could take three bunk beds. I'm sure its not beyond the wit of engineers to design seating that could convert into bunks.
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