Qantas’ ultra-long-haul repatriation flight from Buenos Aires made it into Darwin on Wednesday night. In the aftermath of the epic effort, the airline provided some information on what made the flight unique.
Dreamliner covers 9,333 miles in 17 and a half hours
QF14 from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Darwin (DRW) took 17 hours and 25 minutes over a distance of 9,333 miles (15,020 kilometers). As Simple Flying reported yesterday, the 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZNH, pushed back from Buenos Aires around 12:30 on Tuesday and landed in Darwin at 18:39 on Wednesday.
Onboard were 107 passengers, plus four pilots who were on rotation during the flight and a team of 17 cabin crew, engineering, and ground staff. The plane took off with a maximum fuel load of approximately 126,000 liters.
Qantas advises it was the first-ever nonstop Qantas flight between Buenos Aires and Darwin (this writer would bet the house it was the first-ever nonstop flight between the two cities irrespective of the airline). The Dreamliner flew entirely in daylight with smooth conditions, experienced average headwinds of up to 35 kilometers per hour and temperatures as low as -75 Celsius while flying over Antarctica.
“Qantas has always stepped up to a challenge, especially when it comes to long-haul travel, and this flight is an excellent example of the capabilities and attention to detail of our flight planning team,” said Captain Alex Passerini.
“There were some truly spectacular views as we tracked across Antarctica, which was an extra bonus for our passengers who were very glad to be coming home.”
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Qantas flight sets a new distance benchmark for the airline
Qantas adds the flight was 324 miles (522 kilometers) further than the airline’s regular scheduled nonstop Perth to London flights. QF9 usually takes the trophy as Qantas’ longest flight, comfortably beating the 8578 mile (13804 kilometer) run between Sydney and Dallas and the barely noteworthy 7,490 mile (12,054 kilometer) Sydney – Los Angeles route.
This week’s flight was one of hundreds of charter and repatriation flights Qantas has operated on behalf of the Australian Government to bring Australians home during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the airline has flown these flights from 31 destinations, including 19 that aren’t part of the airline’s regular network. Buenos Aires is one of the airports that rarely sees a Qantas jet.
The flight between Buenos Aires and Darwin set a new distance benchmark for the airline. Along the way yesterday, the Qantas pilots posted updates on social media, including when overflying Antarctica’s Walker Ranges. Qantas posted footage taken of Antarctica from the cockpit online.
An amazing view of Antarctica from the cockpit. pic.twitter.com/7iJranqH3v
— Qantas (@Qantas) October 7, 2021
Several hours later, the pilots posted, “Approaching 1350 km west of Hobart at 39000 feet. The Southern Ocean looks beautiful but cold.”
QF14’s arrival in Darwin saw that airport join a small club of airports that have hosted nonstop flights from all six settled continents. Darwin Airport has always had big ambitions. Now it can legitimately put itself on par with Dubai, Doha, and London – on one ranking at least.
There wasn’t much rest for VH-ZNH. Around six hours after landing in Darwin, the Boeing took off again, heading to Sydney, landing there at dawn on Thursday morning.