The Future of Aviation

Sherquan Dailey ’21

One of the major issues we face today in the world of traveling is jet lag! Jet lag takes place scientifically when a traveler crosses three or more times zones in a quick fashion. This leaves the body’s internal clock running to the accustomed time at home. Consumers have made the claim that a direct long-haul flight may decrease jet lag factors significantly, compared to connecting long-haul flights. For example, common flights to Australia from New York would require passengers to travel a transcontinental flight to California connecting to the next leg onward to Australia. This route of travel would cause passengers to undergo several different time zones increasing the factors of jet lag. 

One of the chief airlines dedicated solely to aid this cause is Qantas. The airline has explained that many different factors go into these long haul-flights, most specifically, legal factors. Pilots and Flight Crew are only obligated and required to work 9 to 14 hours a day, depending on how many segments are flown. As well as the commencement of the Flight Crew’s duty day. 

(flight from London)

Qantas took the next step forward in late 2019 when they launched two test flights destined for Australia. This first flight was from New York to Sydney, Australia, and the second flight was from London to Sydney, Australia. Qantas called these test flights “Project Sunrise”, because, during the duration of the flight, passengers would witness two or more sunrises. The aircraft operating this flight was the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Interestingly though, it was not designed to endure the 10,200 miles needed to complete the flight. As a result, the crew had to compromise. They needed maximum fuel, a smaller amount of passengers and luggage load, as well as NO cargo. This mixture and balance of weight were the only way in which the aircraft would successfully complete the full 10,200 miles none stop. 

On board were researchers from Monash University, Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre, as well as the Alertness Safety and Productivity Cooperative Research Centre. Qantas centered the in-flight hospitality of the flight around the Australian time zone. They adjusted the cabin so that passengers could feel like they were already in Australia. They went even further, syncing meals in order to ensure that the passenger’s bodies would be less prone to jet lag. In addition, passengers wore monitoring devices which allowed the researchers to obtain an accurate understanding of how the in-flight environment impacted them throughout the duration of the flight. 

The final task was ensuring that the cabin and flight crew were able to handle the flight. Throughout the 20 hours, they wore electroencephalogram devices to monitor their brain activity. They also took urine tests to observe the effects travel had on their bodily fluids. 

Overall, both flights were a success. The next milestone is appealing to the demand for more direct flights to farther places like Australia from hubs like Los Angeles, New York, and London. Factors such as the environment, economy, supply, and demand, as well as health all coincide and play a major role in the decision to take this next step in aviation history. Qantas looks ahead to spearhead this aviation milestone by launching these long haul flights as early as 2022-23. Although they have yet to find a suitable aircraft, they aim to find one as fuel-efficient as possible. One could argue that this achievement could be a turning point in aviation history, and the officiality is greatly anticipated.