Qantas Non-stop London to Sydney
In 1989, the delivery flight of Qantas Airway’s first Boeing 747-438 gave the airline an opportunity to become the operator of the first ever non-stop civil flight between the UK and Australia. The aircraft, VH-OJA, has recently been retired from the Qantas fleet having flown close to 106000 hours.
To maximise the range, special high density fuel was used and the engines were only started after the aircraft had been towed to the runway holding point at London Heathrow.
The flight, which was over 18,001 kms, routed London, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Ankara, Tehran, Oman, Colombo, Cocos Islands, Carnarvon, Meekatharra, Woomera, Cowra, Sydney.
The flight was originally planned to take 19 hours 52 minutes - the actual flight lasted 20 hours 9 minutes. The aircraft landed in Sydney with 5.6 tonnes of fuel remaing from the original load of 183.5 tonnes. The remaining fuel would have allowed a further 45 minutes of flight time.
The aircraft carried 5 pilots, 2 cabin crew and 16 passengers and the aircraft was stripped of any non-essential equipment such as galley equipment.
Qantas helped to establish what became known as the kangeroo route in 1935. Passengers travelling between England and Australia then faced a journey involving five types of aircraft, owned by three airlines and also used two railways, The route included 42 refueling stops.
The journey lasted between 12 and 14 days.
The Qantas record breaking aircraft now resides in the Mojave desert where it awaits final fate. The aircraft served Qantas for over twenty five years, completing over 13800 cycles (takeoff/landings).