Qantas Selects Airbus A350 for Project Sunrise Behind Slot Constraints

Qantas uses Airbus A380 in some of its long-haul-flights

Qantas(QF/QFA), last week has selected the Airbus A350-1000(ULR) variant as the preferred aircraft for its most awaited Project Sunrise. The airlines said that, after detailed study and evaluation of all possible aircraft especially the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350. The reliability of the later one with its two years of service after launching with Qatar Airways makes it the preferred choice.

A much awaited program gets a Christmas Boost..

Project Sunrise is a most awaited new ultra-long-haul nonstop flights from Australia’s east coast to cities with likes of  London, New York, Sao Paulo and Frankfurt. Many are still doubting the aviation new benchmark to get off the ground.

As said earlier by Qantas to make choice among available aircraft by the end of 2019 they made the decision last week. Many doubted it to be true. But last week, Qantas made it clear that Airbus A350 was the preferred choice. Still the decision on whether  the project will go head or not hasn’t been made yet. As of today, this decision will be made in March next year.

Qantas said that while no firm order has been placed yet, it will closely work with Airbus to prepare contract terms for upto 12 aircraft ahead of final decision in March 2020. The A350-1000(ULR)  will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, which have a strong reliabikity record after servicing multiple airlines for two years. However, an additional fuel tank will be added which will increase its maximum take-off weight.

Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said,”Between the research flights and what we have learned from flying Perth Int’l to London, we have a lot of confidence in the market for direct services like New York and London to east coast of Australia.”He also added,”Airbus has given us an extra month to lock in an aircraft order without impacting our planned start date, which means we can spend more time hopefully reaching a deal with our pilots.”

Qantas will retire aging B747 in favour of 787s and A350s

The last of three Project Sunrise research flights (New York to Sydney) took off today itself on 17 December. Once complete, Qantas will have almost 60 hours of  ‘Sunrise Flying’ experience and thousands of data points on crew and passenger wellbeing. These data set will be used in discussions with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to approve extension to operating limits for long haul services. CASA has provisionally advised that it seems no regulatory obstacles to the Project Sunrise.

Airbus is doing everything possible to make this project happen..

Airbus has agreed to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March 2020. This provides additional time to negotiate an industrial agreement without impacting the planned start date of Project Sunrise flights in the first half of calendar year 2023.

The airlines said that discussions with the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) were ongoing.

The airlines is also continuing work on a cabin redesign for flights lasting upto 21 hours. However before any A350s are ordered, there are multiple hurdled that Qantas needs to overcome. Industrial negotiations with Qantas Pilots, AIPA are continuing. The pilot union group are concerned about how the flights will impact long haul pilots, both mentally and physically. Discussions are also centered on productivity and efficiency gains.

Another huge blow for Boeing..

Boeing initially proposed the B777-8 variant for this project operation but was later reported to have switched the offer to B777-200LR given the delays in the B777X programme. Although the aircraft order is a small one, it is a marque order. It was speculated that the 777X program was contingent on it being selected as the preffered aircraft after fierce competition with the European giant Airbus.

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