Qantas has just smashed its own speed record for the new Perth to London Boeing 787-9 non-stop flight slashing almost an hour off the scheduled flight time.
And for the first time the outbound flight to London (QF9), against the prevailing winds, was 6 minutes faster than the return trip (QF10).
The new record time was set on May 29 and was just 16 hours 29 minutes instead of the scheduled 17 hours 20 minutes.
In fact, it is understood that the flight crew of QF9 was cautioned on arriving too early. The 787-9 touched down at 4.36am…six minutes after Heathrow’s curfew lifted.
Last month the outbound flight, QF10 from London to Perth set a record of 15.45 minutes stripping an hour off the published time.
The average speed for that journey was 938km/h but just before the descent into Perth, the plane was flying at a ground speed of 1114km/h.
The typical cruise speed for a 787 is 900km/h.
According to Flightradar24 the Qantas Perth to London and return service is now consistently beating the published schedule.
Supporting the pilots of the nonstop flight is the high-tech Qantas integrated operations center at the airline’s Mascot headquarters.
Multi-disciplinary experts in areas such as load control, engineering, weather forecasting, catering, flight planning, dispatch and customer service monitor the operations, plan flights and are ready to leap into action when something goes amiss.
Qantas chief technical pilot Alex Passerini said key issues with the London flight include avoiding headwinds, because they made a significant difference to the flight time, and negotiating the complicated patchwork of air traffic control regions run by various countries.
The airline has its own weather forecasters who monitor conditions up to seven days before the flight and keep a closer watch once it is 72 hours away.
“It is the most technically challenging route that Qantas flies today because of that complexity of the airspace that we deal with and some of the challenges that poses,” Capt. Passerini said.
“It is very complex but we have a great team, very experienced and they do their jobs very well, so they contribute very significantly to the outcome of those flights.”
During flights, the weather team monitors a host of screens which display the world’s most sophisticated data and satellite images so that pilots can select the smoothest — and fastest route.
According to travel agents, the Perth to London nonstop is proving popular and it is difficult to get premium seats.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said that if the London flight is a success the airline would look at a Perth-Paris nonstop by the end of next year.
The next four 787s that the airline will take delivery of in the second half of this year are accounted for on flights to the US.
After those deliveries, the airline is expected to get another four in the second half of next year.