Qantas has broken another record with its longest-ever commercial flight after landing a repatriation service from Buenos Aires to Darwin on Wednesday night.
The journey also marks the first time that a flight has landed in Darwin from every inhabited continent in one year, which, according to ABC News, is an accomplishment that many of the world’s biggest airports are yet to achieve.
QF14 carried 107 passengers a cool 15,020 kilometres over 17 hours and 25 minutes, which is 522 kilometres further than the airline’s regular scheduled non-stop Perth to London flights which began in March 2018.
Taking off at 12:44pm local time in Buenos Aires, the flight tracked south of Argentina, skirting the edge of Antarctica before crossing the Australian coast at 5:28pm (AEDT) and landing in Darwin at 6:39pm local time last night.
The Boeing 787-9, named “Great Barrier Reef”, flew entirely in daylight with smooth conditions, experienced average headwinds of up to 35 kilometres per hour and temperatures as low as minus 75 Celsius while flying over Antarctica.
A team of flight planning analysts spent the past month conducting extensive route planning based on weather and wind conditions across the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica.
Captain Alex Passerini said Qantas has a proud history in pioneering ultra-long-haul flights due to the geographical location of Australia to the rest of the world, and this one was no exception.
“Qantas has always stepped up to a challenge, especially when it comes to long-haul travel, and this flight is an excellent example of the capabilities and attention to detail of our flight planning team,” Passerini said.
“There were some truly spectacular views as we tracked across Antarctica, which was an extra bonus for our passengers who were very glad to be coming home.”
Since March 2020, Qantas has operated hundreds of charter and repatriation flights on behalf of the federal government to bring Australians home during the COVID19 pandemic, flying to 31 destinations overseas, including 19 that aren’t part of the airline’s regular network.
The national carrier has a history of setting and breaking records for long-haul flights.
In 1989, a Qantas 747 delivery flight flew non-stop from London to Sydney in 20 hours and nine minutes. The airline also operated two Project Sunrise research flights on a Boeing 787 from New York and London direct to Sydney in 2019 with a greatly reduced passenger load and a flying time of over 19 hours each.
Featured image source: Qantas