Qantas' record breaking repatriation flight from Buenos Aires to Darwin has touched down after 17 hours and 25 minutes in the air.
Since March, 2020 the airline has operated hundreds of charter and repatriation flights on behalf of the Australian government to bring Aussies home during the COVID19 pandemic, flying to 31 destinations overseas, including 19 that aren't part of the airline's regular network.
The 15,020km flight of QF14 carried 107 passengers and flew non-stop from Buenos Aires to Darwin.
It was 522km further than the airline's regular scheduled non-stop Perth - London flights which took off in March, 2018, before they were paused due to the closure of Australia's international borders.
Qantas is the airline behind many history making flights. In 1989, a Qantas 747 delivery flight flew non-stop from London to Sydney in 20 hours and nine minutes.
Qantas also operated two Project Sunrise research flights on a Boeing 787 from New York and London direct to Sydney in 2019 with a greatly reduced passenger load and a flying time of over 19 hours each.
This repatriation flight took off at 12.44pm local time in Buenos Aires, tracking south of Argentina, skirting the edge of Antarctica before crossing the Australian coast at 5.28pm (AEDT) and landing in Darwin at 6.39pm local time last night.
It was the first ever non-stop Qantas flight between Buenos Aires and Darwin and flew entirely in daylight with smooth conditions, experiencing average head winds of up to 35km/h and temperatures as low as -75C while flying over Antarctica.
A team of flight planning analysts spent the past month conducting extensive route planning based on weather and wind conditions across the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica. The flight is not only long, it also travels through areas where the safety of a runway is hundreds of kilometres away.
- The Buenos Aires - Darwin journey took 17 hours and 25 minutes and covered a distance of 15,020km
- The flight was operated on a Boeing 787-9 registration VH-ZNH, named 'Great Barrier Reef'
- A total of 107 passengers were on board, plus four pilots who were on rotation during the flight and a team of 17 cabin crew, engineering and ground staff
- The route departed Buenos Aires, flying over the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica before crossing the Australian coast near the Great Australian Bight and descending in Darwin
- The aircraft operated with a maximum fuel load of approx. 126,000 litres.