Picture from Qantas.

LONDON — Qantas has today completed their first direct service between Perth and London Heathrow, which marks yet another achievement in the aviation industry.

QFA9, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in question departed Perth at 7:00 pm local time Saturday, March 24th and arrived into Heathrow at 04:10 am Zulu time on Sunday, March 25th.

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VH-ZND is the first 787-9 Dreamliner in the fleet to complete this flight and when it touched down at Heathrow, it sported its special Yam Dreaming Livery.

Before the flight departed Perth, the airport’s CEO Kevin Brown was questioned by members of the press regarding this event and this is what he said:

“This really is a moment in history for Perth Airport and for Western Australia. It’s incredibly important that we make a great first impression on visitors to our State and also give them a warm farewell when they leave.

Teams have been working almost around the clock to ensure that today’s launch goes smoothly and that we continue to set a high standard for all international flights to and from bother our international terminals.

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Security systems have been tested and re-tested, shelves stocked in the Aelia duty-free outlets, and, most importantly, the beers have been chilled in the Blackwood bar and bistro.

I’m really proud of the work our team and our partners have done in making this happen in such a short space of time – and I’m sure Western Australians will be proud too.”

QF9 carried 200 passengers with 16 members of flight crew with a flight time between 16-18 hours in the air.

The daily QF9 flight originally begins in Melbourne so then that fliers can connect to London via Perth due to the adjusted timetables provided by Qantas in their operations on flights from Adelaide, Sydney, and Brisbane respectively.

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This new flight gives fliers the opportunity to choose from three different methods of getting to London. Passengers can use the direct London service from Perth, the recently reinstated Sydney-Singapore-London service on the A380 or via Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to London via the stopover in Dubai using the mixture of A380 and 777 Aircraft with Emirates.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation:

“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link. The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap. The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travelers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.”

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In addition, the airline provided members of the press nine special facts about QFA9:

  1. QF9 is operated by four pilots across the 17-hour journey, with one or two pilots resting at any one time.
  2. The flight will follow different flight paths depending on the best winds, helping the aircraft fly faster and more efficiently. Qantas analyzed a decade of seasonal wind patterns in preparation for the new service.
  3. At 14,498km, QF9 is the third longest commercial flight currently in operation. It is the world’s longest Dreamliner flight.
  4. QF9 will carry around 92 tonnes or 110,000 liters of fuel with the Dreamliner burning approximately 20 percent less than traditional aircraft its size.
  5. With a total seat count of 236 passengers, the Qantas Dreamliner has significantly fewer seats than many other airlines who have configured the same aircraft to carry more than 300 passengers
  6. Currently, most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 ft. For the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 ft, meaning it’s closer to conditions on the ground.
  7. Menus for the flights between Perth and London have been designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reduce jetlag and include poke bowls as well as home-style comfort food.
  8. There are more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London including 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits.
  9. In 1947 a return flight from Sydney to London cost £525 when the average wage was £7. Today, the average Australian weekly wage is $1600 and a return fare from Perth to London can cost less than $1300.

What does this all mean now for the industry?

This flight is a significant success for the industry for many reasons. For Qantas, they have been able to complete something that has been in the pipeline for many years and has been significantly harder to do due to previous aircraft types not having the distance to do so.

With newer aircraft such as the 787-9 Dreamliner having the range to do these flights, it also puts Boeing in good stead to prospective customers who want to launch far longer flights such Emirates who have ordered the 787-10.

As this flight is the longest Dreamliner flight currently in the world so far, this is an achievement that Boeing can take quite a significant level of credit for.

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In the bigger picture, aside from all of the competitive tendencies that manufacturers and carriers will have, this is something that can be celebrated for what it is.

From the Wright Brothers barely flying a mile back in 1908 to now being able to travel up to 15,000 kilometres in just short of 18 hours is certainly something that the engineers, test pilots and all of those involved in the development stage of aircraft such as the 787-9, the A350 and A380 should be proud of.

The big thing now for Qantas is whether any other airlines are going to compete with the Australian airline and see whether there will be any perspective of competition. With the flight only just being inaugurated, airlines are probably wanting to see how successful it is initially and take some scope for passenger demand before committing to anything like this.

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With this route comes a lot of high-risk because the airline has to provide a service for customers that have to stay on an aircraft for 16-18 hours at a time, which can be argued as sometimes an inconvenience as many passengers want a connection point to stretch and relax further.

Overall, for now, we can take this achievement and celebrate it for what it is. When you think that the industry has done everything, either an airline, a manufacturer or an individual can come out of nowhere and surprise you.