Qantas’s much-heralded, non-stop flights from Perth to London will change travel on the Kangaroo route forever.
The flight will become the world’s third longest commercial run at 8,989 miles.
The new long flights are only possible due to the introduction of the Boeing 787 – which will fly the 18-hour service from Perth to London – and the Airbus A350.
So just how are these routes put together, and how are they flown over such great distances?
Boris Kufic, who teaches Aviation studies at ECU, told ECU Daily why the Dreamliner is so important for these routes.
“The Dreamliner and Airbus A350 perform better because of the composite materials,” said Mr Kulic.
“These planes have higher pressure in the cockpit and cabin than other aircraft.
“Composite materials are non-corrosive and this allows for greater humidity and oxygen in the cabin, adding to passenger and crew comfort on the long hauls.
“In older aircraft like the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747, in these conditions at this pressure, the passengers on the plane will get tired and can last maybe 12 hours, 14 maximum, but would become very uncomfortable after 18 hours in the air.”
“It would be really damaging for human health,” he said.
Of course, It’s not just passengers that must fly this route. Pilots and crew must do so too, and for them it’s not as straight forward as sitting in a reclining chair, watching their favourite series on Netflix whilst washing down their tin-sealed dinner with an odd shaped can of coke.
A pilot from one of Qantas’s rival carriers, who wished to remain anonymous told ECU Daily just what flying long-haul is like.
“We have two sets of teams,” the pilot explained.
“Team A and Team B, both consisting of a Captain and a First Officer.
“Team A does the take off, and then rests during the middle of the flight as Team B takes over.
“Team A then takes control again for the landing.”
When the teams are resting, they can’t just go into the cabin and sit in a normal seat. They have their own rest area located above the cockpit.
“All crew are able to take a rest during the flight,” said the pilot.
“There is always plenty to do in the cockpit during a flight,” he added.
“We have system checks, weather checks, strategies for failures, contingencies for high terrain or non-radar environments, monitoring of airspace and traffic, practice drills and silent reviews.
“I can work continuously on a long-haul flight and be dead tired on arrival.
“Flying takes a lot of energy.”
Despite the introduction of the new aeroplanes, questions remain surrounding how many travellers will want to fly the route. It’s not the distance that is putting some travellers off, but the price.
Currently a return ticket Perth to London with Qantas for the middle of April next year is more then $2600, with a total flight time there and back of 34 hours. Singapore Airlines offers a return service with a stopover in Singapore for over $1000 less, but with a journey time of six hours more.
Alana Butler who travelled from Perth to London earlier this year told ECU Daily that she would not be willing to spend an extra $1000 on the Qantas flights.
“I understand why they are charging more,” said Ms Butler.
“But I feel like they are targeting older generation business customers more than regular customers.
“I know most young people prefer low cost over ease of service and flight time.”
.Qantas’ Dreamliner will only have 166 economy seats, while other airlines like Qatar and Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner’s have over 230 economy seats.
Whilst the addition of new ultra-long-haul flights from Perth has opened a new chapter in Australian aviation, it could be some time before the everyday person will be boarding a flight in Perth and getting off in London.