Qantas is running 19-hour test flights to see how it impacts people's health

Key Points
  • Qantas says the test flights will contain a maximum of 40 people, including crew and researchers.
  • A final decision on whether to run the flights will be made by the end of the year, Qantas says.
The first commercial flight of the Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on December 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images

If you're nervous about flying, this one might not be for you. Qantas on Thursday said it's going to run "research" flights from London and New York to Sydney — a 19-hour route — to see how it affects passengers' health.

The Australian airline giant said the three test flights would contain a maximum of 40 people. That includes crew members and a research team on board who will look at things like sleep patterns and food consumption "to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock."

Qantas said that passengers — who mostly consist of its own staff — will be fitted with wearable devices to run tests throughout the flights. The company says it has already conducted experimental flights along its direct Perth to London service.

Boeing's 787-9 aircraft will be used for the tests, and Qantas said both Boeing and its European competitor Airbus are pitching jets for the long-haul routes. A final decision on whether to run the flights will be made by the end of the year, Qantas said.

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To be clear, none of the people in the cabin will be paying customers, Qantas said. The purpose of the move is to see how such lengthy journeys would work if it started selling them to customers.

"It's actually the first time a commercial airline has flown from New York to Sydney non-stop, and only the second time that a flight from London to Sydney has taken place," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Thursday.

"It allows us to test out fatigue-risk management, the impact on customers and employees and allows us to help develop the case for these operations," he added.

The company hopes to have the New York-Sydney and London-Sydney direct routes up and running by 2022.