Qantas chooses Airbus A350 if it goes ahead with world's longest non-stop flight
The last of three Project Sunrise test flights - New York to Sydney - will take place on December 17
Qantas airline confirmed it will use Airbus wide-body A350-1000 should it go ahead with plans to introduce the world's longest non-stop flight next year.
The Australian airline has carried out two test flights so far – New York to Sydney and London to Sydney using rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner – as part of its Project Sunrise.
Having evaluated the aircraft capable to carry out the 19-hour flights, Qantas chose the A350 over Boeing's 777X, which is facing delivery delays.
"This aircraft uses the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine, which has a strong reliability record after being in service with airlines for more than two years," Qantas said.
"Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum take-off weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes."
The airline added that no orders had been placed, but it will work closely with Toulouse-based Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft before reaching a final decision, for which confirmation has been extended from February to March 2020. The cost of 12 A350-1000s jets is $4.4 billion (Dh16bn) at list prices.
The planned start date for the flights is the first half of 2023.
The airline's final test flight takes off from New York on December 17 and will land in Sydney. The research data being collected from these test flights include activity monitoring, sleep diaries, cognitive testing and monitoring of melatonin levels for those on board.
Qantas said that based on its fatigue risk management system, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority "has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles to the Sunrise flights".
Negotiations are also ongoing with pilots, who have been offered a 3 per cent pay increase and promotions in return for longer duty times.
“The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience," said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.
The decision to go with Airbus is another blow to Boeing, whose ultra-long haul 777X is behind schedule due to engine problems.
The US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, said last month that the 777X will undergo careful inspection before it enters into service in light of the grounding of the 737 Max after the jet was involved in two fatal crashes.
Inside Qantas's new A380 cabin
Updated: December 14, 2019 06:37 PM