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The final frontier: Qantas to trial 20-hour flights

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Lift-off: Australian airline Qantas is to test direct flights from New York and London to Sydney this autumn

Lift-off: Australian airline Qantas is to test direct flights from New York and London to Sydney this autumn

Lift-off: Australian airline Qantas is to test direct flights from New York and London to Sydney this autumn

Qantas Airways will run marathon ghost flights from New York and London to Sydney, carrying just a few staff, to see how the human body holds up before commercial services start.

Qantas said it will simulate the world's longest direct flights with Boeing Dreamliners as soon as October. The payload of 40 passengers and crew will undergo a host of medical checks.

The Australian airline wants to start direct flights connecting Sydney to New York and London as soon as 2022. CEO Alan Joyce described the services as aviation's final frontier.

The services, which take about 20 hours, are not yet a sure thing. Qantas has not decided on a Boeing or Airbus plane that can fly the route fully laden and without a break. And it is not clear how passengers will tolerate living in the cabin for the best part of a day and a night.

"The things we learn on these flights will be invaluable," Mr Joyce said.

He has previously said he plans to choose either Boeing's 777-8X, or Airbus's ultra-long-range A350-900ULR and -1000ULR for the flights.

Bloomberg

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