16 DECEMBER 2019
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Further developments in the Project Sunrise programme were announced by Qantas on Friday, including the airline’s choice of the Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred aircraft for the ultra-long-haul flights should they go ahead.
Qantas stressed a final go/no-go vote on Sunrise would not take place until March 2020 and no orders had been placed but the airline would now work closely with Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft ahead of the decision.
The airline noted the A350-1000 uses the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine, which had "a strong reliability record" and Airbus would add an extra fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum take-off weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.
Airbus would also extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March, giving time for Qantas to negotiate an industrial agreement with pilots without impacting the planned Project Sunrise launch in 2023.
The last of three Project Sunrise research flights, a 19hr non-stop run from New York to Sydney, is due to take place tomorrow, 17 December, giving Qantas almost 60hr of experience and thousands of data points on crew and passenger wellbeing.
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