Qantas selects A350-1000(ULR) for Project Sunrise

Image Qantas

Image Qantas

Qantas has selected the Airbus A350-1000 for its Project Sunrise program, which aims to open regular, nonstop commercial routes from the east coast of Australia to ultra-long-haul destinations including London and NY.

"This aircraft uses the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, which has a strong reliability record after being in service with airlines for more than two years", the airline explained in a press release.

Qantas has announced that it is intending to use the Airbus A350-1000 for its Project Sunrise program.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the airline has a lot of confidence in the aircraft.

Qantas also delayed a final decision on whether to begin those, and other long haul services, until March 2020.

Once the third and final 787 operated "research" flight is completed on 17 December from New York-JFK non-stop (this routing will be the second time), in addition to the already completed London-LHR-Sydney non stop, the airline will have around 60 hours data of "Sunrise flying".

Airbus has promised that to optimize the aircraft for Project Sunrise, it will add an additional fuel tank and increase the maximum takeoff weight to make sure that it can carry the extra fuel required to operate the flights with a full load of passengers.

Pilot negotiationsAccording to the announcement "Industrial negotiations with representatives for Qantas pilots, AIPA, are continuing".

It has conducted several test flights to find out whether passengers and crew are able to withstand the marathon journeys. If it goes ahead with the plan, services would start operating by 2023.

Qantas clarified that the last remaining "gap in the business case" was an agreement with the pilot unions.

Qantas said this played a role in its decision, particularly as it's still negotiating how it would compensate its cabin crew for the flights, which could entail working for up to 22 hours straight. Based on detailed information already provided by Qantas on its fatigue risk management system, CASA has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles to the Sunrise flights.

The planned service will be the world's longest commercial flight when launched.

"From the outset, we've been clear that Project Sunrise depends on a business case that works".

The Australian carrier said it would work closely with Airbus on a deal for as many as 12 aircraft, but no orders have yet been placed. "We're offering promotions and an increase in pay but we're asking for some flexibility in return, which will help lower our operating costs", Joyce said.

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