Qantas Looking for Ultra-Long Range Aircraft

26th Jan 2017

Qantas is all but ready to start non-stop flights between Sydney and New York and Sydney and London. All it now needs is a plane with the range that can cover these "ultra-long distances".

The choice is limited. Not many aircraft can fly directly, without refueling for 20 hours (Sydney-New York), or even 18 hours (Sydney-London). Not to speak about providing passenger comfort for a flight that long.

Still, Qantas has some aircraft on its radar for this purpose. More specifically, Boeing 777X and Airbus A350-900ULR, both with a price range around $400 million.

The next best thing would probably be Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Qantas will use this aircraft on Perth-London route starting March next year, but had to make some adjustments on it. In order to allow the Dreamliner to cover a distance of 14,500 kilometers, Qantas had to install fewer seats on board. Instead of the usual 300 seats, the Australian airline will only offer 236 seats.

The choice of Boeing 777X is a logical one for Boeing as well, who, according to its Vice President Mark Jenks, would prefer to focus on fuel-efficient planes such as the 777X, rather than on supersonic jets.

Mr. Jenks said:

"In the near term we don't see a supersonic aeroplane as the next one out of the box. The 777X is going to be an extremely fuel efficient aeroplane and that's always going to be a huge concern for our customers (because) it's a huge part of their operating costs."

Jenks, who is also the general manager of Boeing's 787 program, said the following on the current global situation following Trumps inauguration and how it affects Boeing:

"I can't comment on President Trump and the situation there but clearly the international climate is dynamic and it always is. I don't think anyone's big enough to be immune to it, but the basic dynamics of the market haven't changed and even though there is a lot going on and there is some uncertainty, fundamentally our traffic is increasing."

In October, Qantas will receive the first of the eight Dreamliners it bought from Boeing. These will initially be used on the Melbourne-Los Angeles route.