Watch: Qantas' test non-stop flight between New York and Sydney touches down

The first step towards Qantas' goal of non-stop flights to the opposite side of the world was taken overnight.

A Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner took off from New York's John F Kennedy Airport and made its way across the US, then down through the Pacific Ocean before finally touching down in Sydney on Sunday morning local time.

On board were 50 Qantas staff who were essentially being used as guinea pigs to find out what effects such a long flight can have on the human body.

Qantas is aiming for non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York and London at some time in 2022.

Going the distance

  • The non-stop flight from New York to Sydney took around 19-and-a-half hours. This compares to a travel time of 22 hours and 20 minutes on the current New York to Sydney via Los Angeles flight.
  • The distance between New York and Sydney is 16,20km. 
  • The flight was operated by a brand new Boeing 787-9, registration VH ZNI, named 'Kookaburra'.
  • Four pilots were on rotation throughout the flight. Two additional pilots were in the cabin, having flown the aircraft to New York. In total the crew have 67,000 hours of flying experience.
  • The flight travelled at 85 percent the speed of sound which is around 930 kilometres an hour. Cruising altitude will start at 36,000 feet for the first few hours and then as the aircraft weight reduces with fuel burn, the cruising altitude will increase to 40,000 feet (12km).

In order to be able to make the 16,000km journey from New York to Sydney, the aircraft used was at its maximum fuel capacity, while at the same time its passenger and baggage load was much lower than a normal flight.

Everything went to plan during the flight, with just one alteration needing to be made to its flight plan to avoid storm activity south of Hawaii.

The aircraft type used, the 787-9 Dreamliner, may not be the aircraft that will fly the long non-stop routes when they launch commercially.

Airbus and Boeing have both pitched variations of the A350 and 777X respectively, which would make them capable of operating the ultra-long-haul routes.