Qantas has selected the Airbus A350-1000 for its Project Sunrise program, which aims to open regular, nonstop commercial routes from the east coast of Australia to ultra-long-haul destinations including London and NY. 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 challenged manufacturers to optimize their competing aircraft - the A350-1000 and the 777-8X - to provide the required range.
The airline's Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the carrier has a lot of confidence in the aircraft.
Two years ago, the airline announced a competition between the two aircraft manufacturers to develop an aircraft that extends the reach of the current jets to the limit and nonstop between Sydney and London flies. But the airline on Friday also pushed back its final decision to go ahead with the long-haul routes until March next year.
The airline has already conducted two project sunrise test flights with the third, NY to Sydney, taking place on the 17th December. Airbus will add an additional fuel tank to the aircraft, and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight.
It has conducted several test flights to find out whether passengers and crew are able to withstand the marathon journeys.
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Discussions with Qantas pilot representatives at AIPA are now ongoing to close the last remaining gap in the project's business case. This release is already delayed by a problem with the GE9X engine that needs to be reworked to postpone the first flight of the jet from this year to next year.
The test flights have been carried out using Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the data gathered on the flights will be used to make the case for the Civil Aviation Authority (Australia) to approve the extended operations.
The Project Sunrise flights can last up to 21 hours so Qantas is continuing to look at the design of the customer experience onboard.
Australia's Qantas Airways picked Airbus over Boeing as the preferred supplier for jets capable of the world's longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, dealing the United States planemaker its latest setback this year. Qantas in negotiations with its pilots' union about these matters. Qantas are now looking at new cabins across First Class, Business, Premium Economy, and Economy. But it added that it would work with Airbus to draft a deal for up to 12 planes that will be presented to the airline's board. "We're offering promotions and an increase in pay but we're asking for some flexibility in return, which will help lower our operating costs", Joyce said.