Qantas has provided a glimpse into plans to link Sydney to London with a non-stop flight.


Speaking at IATA conference in Korea, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the proposed 20+ hour route is well on target to meet its 2022 deadline.


Dubbed 'Project Sunrise' the airline has had to totally rethink its approach to 'ultra-long haul' flight.


The route would not only be the longest uninterrupted flight in terms of distance, but add a good couple of hours on to the current record holders – Singapore Air's 18 and a half hour marathon to New York.

Advertisement

The trip has been referred to by the company as aviation's 'last frontier'.

Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce says he 'will kill' the Sydney-London project if numbers don't add up. Photo / Getty Images
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce says he 'will kill' the Sydney-London project if numbers don't add up. Photo / Getty Images

Working with both Airbus and Boeing, Qantas has had to rethink about the strains such a flight would place on both aircraft and traveller.


Last year the airline threw down the gauntlet to the two major aircraft manufacturers and cabin designers to come up with machines to make the day-long flight not just manageable, but bearable.


Having said that his airline were "now comfortable that we think we have vehicles that could do it", the next stage is making the vehicles comfortable for the travellers.


Interiors geared towards flying office bunks, flying gyms or even child-care facilities were all concepts under consideration.


"We're challenging ourselves to think outside the box," he said. "Would you have the space used for other activities - exercise, bar, creche, sleeping areas and berths? Boeing and Airbus have been actually quite creative in coming up with ideas."


While the idea of flying sleeping pods in the cargo hold "just didn't work", it was the idea of in-flight exercise that was gaining some serious traction.

At this year's IATA Joyce told media that his airline are "looking at what we're calling a 'fourth zone' for people to stretch, to exercise, to hydrate on." It is understood this would be a separate compartment to the current Economy, Business and First Class offerings.

Flying bunk beds: Plans to install bunk beds in cargo holds were abandoned. Photo / Airbus, Supplied
Flying bunk beds: Plans to install bunk beds in cargo holds were abandoned. Photo / Airbus, Supplied

This flying break out space might seem like a luxury, but it may be part of shedding plane weight rather than keeping passengers fit.

Weight was recognised as an important factor for achieving the aircraft range needed, and is part of the reason why early concepts for flying bunk beds were abandoned.

However, for Qantas' intentions for passenger well-being this is of course secondary to the working conditions of the pilots.


Regulators are suggesting a new system for managing pilot fatigue and work hours for the 21-hour flight.


While Qantas tries to satisfy regulators and pilots – potential passengers are more than excited about the idea of a flying gym and direct links to London.

Pet project: Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft have already opened direct flights from Australia to the UK. Photo / Getty Images
Pet project: Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft have already opened direct flights from Australia to the UK. Photo / Getty Images

Over the past few years 'Sunrise' has become a pet project of Joyce, with regular announcements claiming the route was 'on target' and on 'schedule.'

However that doesn't mean Qantas can afford to get precious about it.

Joyce was quoted by Bloomberg after the IATA event saying that if the numbers don't stack up he "will kill the project."

"There are a significant number of hurdles to overcome but we think we can make this work."