By Cailey Rizzo
August 22, 2019
Suriya Silsaksom/Getty Images

Qantas is trying to figure out how much your body can handle.

The Australian airline is testing 20-hour flights from Sydney to London and New York to see how the human body holds up spending nearly an entire day in flight.

The airline is calling the test flights “Project Sunrise,” scheduled to take place later this year.

When Qantas takes delivery of its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, they will need to fly from Seattle, where the planes are manufactured, to their new base in Australia. But instead of flying direct, the planes will make stops, for testing purposes.

The flights are scheduled to take place in October, November, and December, in line with Boeing’s scheduled aircraft deliveries. Two of the planes will fly to New York and a third will fly to London. From there, the planes will test their roughly 20-hour flights to Sydney.

It will be the first time a commercial airline has ever flown direct from New York to Sydney and the second time it has ever been done from London.

Qantas will use information from these test flights to gauge the feasibility of launching direct flights to the major cities.

“Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement. “No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we’ll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We’ll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights.”

Tickets on board the ultra-long flights will not be available to the public. The only people on board will be Qantas employees who have agreed to take part in testing.

Medical professionals will be participating in the flights to test how 19 to 20 hours in an aircraft affects the human body. They will be looking at how to minimize jet lag and how to create a comfortable long-haul atmosphere. Crew members working the flight will also be studied to determine the best times to “promote alertness” while on duty and “maximise rest” during downtime.

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