Qantas airlines has claimed the 'holy grail of flights' – a non-stop trip from London to Sydney – will be doable within five years. The 20-hour, super long haul, flight is said to be a realistic possibility thanks to advances in aviation technology and efficiency.
Advances in plane design and materials from Boeing and Airbus have seen aircraft with the ability to fly further in recent years and Qantas is already set to introduce the first ever non-stop London to Perth route in 2018. This 17-hour flight will be executed using Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner plane – a revolutionary craft made from lightweight composite rather than aluminium for increased fuel efficiency.
"If the 787-9 can do Perth-London, we think that when the 777-8 comes out in the 2021 timeframe we will have a lot more improvement in technology," said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing Senior Vice President of sales Asia-Pacific and India.
"You know from what they have done on other aircraft that Sydney-London and Melbourne-London has real possibility," said Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive.
"These aircraft, we think, are potentially real goers on these routes."
The current London to Sydney route, which is otherwise known as the 'Kangaroo route' as a result of its one-stop hop in destinations such as Dubai or Singapore, is a highly regarded and highly valued flight by the Australian national carrier. However, it's also one of the busiest, most competitive long haul routes in the world. To be able to do the trip in one go without the need to stop would not only be financially attractive fuel-wise, but it would also see the company be able to charge a premium fare, which could be anywhere up to 20% more it has been said, for those passengers wanting to do without the inconvenience.
"It takes us off this superhighway of very competitive conditions of capacity which is priced, in many cases, under costs," said Joyce.
If the flight were to come into operation it would be the world's longest passenger flight, overtaking the current longest flight from Auckland to Dubai clocked at 17 hours and 15 minutes by Emirates Airlines. While the non-stop flight would cut down travelling time by many hours (depending on your layover) the prospect of a 20-hour jaunt without a break might sound like an economy passenger's worst nightmare. Hypersonic aircraft that can complete the journey from London to Sydney in just two hours may be in development but we're a long, long way off till this next-generation of air travel.