The Qantas Boeing 787-9 Perth to London nonstop service is smashing speed records, with some flights beating the schedule by up to an hour.
Monday’s QF10 flight time from London to Perth was just 15 hours 45 minutes — one hour faster than published as the pilots hooked up with a strong jet stream.
The average speed for the journey was 938km/h but just before the descent into Perth, the plane was flying at 1114km/h.
The typical cruise speed for a 787 is 900km/h.
And the journey to London is also getting quicker, with QF9 on Wednesday taking just 16 hours 55 minutes — 25 minutes faster than the schedule.
The previous record for the flight was set in April 1987 when a Royal Air Force VC-10 flew from Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to Perth non-stop being refueled twice inflight.
That record was marker to marker and did not include the take-off and landing.
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 last month that if the London flight was 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.