The final go hasn’t been given yet, but Qantas is still releasing information about their cabin revamp called Project Sunrise. The project will be built around the Airbus A350-1000, which features a Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine. In addition to the cabin overhaul, the Airbus will also be equipped with an additional fuel tank and will have a larger maximum takeoff weight. Contract details are being hammered out for up to 12 aircraft which would be delivered in time for Project Sunrise’s flights in the first half of 2023.
Qantas has flown three “research flights,” which have measured the impact of “sunrise flying” on crew and passengers. Thanks to the data gathered from these flights, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has given provisional ascent for the ultra long haul services to take place. “Between the research flights and what we’ve learned from two years of flying Perth to London,” stated Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, “we have a lot of confidence in the market for direct services like New York and London to the east coast of Australia.”
While Qantas continues its work to make the deal happen not only with Airbus, but also with the captains and crew, they’ll also be working on making the sunrise flights more enjoyable for passengers. Amanda Bolger, head of Qantas’ Media and Communications department, told DMARGE, that “it will be an entire new cabin design for each class, a new opportunity to rethink the ideal cabin environment based on the ultra long haul nature of the Project Sunrise flights.” The design changes will happen based on “customer feedback, design innovation opportunities, and consultation with our customer experience and design experts.” Inclusion of different aspects will be dependent on “the popularity of current cabin design elements,” but one thing that has been confirmed is extra space. “We are already talking about the need for ‘stretching space’ to be incorporated into the cabin design,” remarked Bolger. According to Joyce, in addition to a “first-class product that leapfrogs what’s there today,” the new cabins will also have a “new business class and a new premium economy.” Even the standard economy will “have more seat pitch.” There will also be an exercise and general-use area that “could be used as a stand-up bar area. It could be used to let kids play there for a while. When we’re ready for our flight, it will have multiple purposes.”