Qantas Airways is to make the final decision on which aircraft to choose for its Project Sunrise by the end of December 2019. So far, two aircraft by rivals Airbus and Boeing are competing for the future task to carry passengers on ultra-long-haul routes from the east coast of Australia to London and New York.
Qantas is choosing between two proposed aircraft ‒ Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X ‒ that are both “capable of operating Project Sunrise flights with a viable commercial payload”. The final decision on the aircraft choice still depends on the economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements, the airline has revealed in a statement.
“There’s plenty of enthusiasm for Sunrise, but it’s not a foregone conclusion,” according to Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce as quoted in the statement. “This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up”.
Qantas challenged Airbus and Boeing to present their “best and final offer” for long-haul jetliners back in August 2017. The aircraft has to be capable of flying the up to 21-hour, over 10,550 mile (16,979 km) non-stop flight between Sydney to London. Once launched, it would be world’s longest flight.
“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,” Joyce said in the statement.
Earlier in August 2019, media reports suggested that Airbus is preparing to launch the A350-1000ULR, an ultra-long-range variant of the largest member of the A350 XWB family of jetliners.
Airbus has not yet officially confirmed the launch of the A350-1000ULR. However, an aircraft that could fly even further than the A350-900ULR was immediately linked to Qantas Airways’ Project Sunrise challenge.
“The A350 XWB is perfect solution for Project Sunrise – non-stop Sydney or Melbourne to London – and we have been discussing with Qantas about its requirements,” Airbus spokesperson told AeroTime without specifying which A350XWB ‒ the A350-900ULR or A350-1000ULR ‒ that would be. “Details of these discussions remain confidential of course,” the spokesperson added.