During the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Airbus noted the A350-900 and A350-1000 are both suitable for Qantas’ Project Sunrise.

In an effort to fly between Sydney and and Europe non-stop, Qantas has been evaluating the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777-8 and has now proposed August to announce their decision.

Christian Scherer, Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, presented plenty of enthusiasm about Airbus’ position in the competition.

With the Boeing 777-8 just a revised frame – a “re-engined hummer” in Scherer’s words – Airbus is the only player with a completely new aircraft with plenty of design potential down the line.

Both Airbus A350 variants suitable for Qantas' Project Sunrise
Airbus A350-900ULR Singapore Airlines

Rather than offering the standard A350-900 and A350-1000, Airbus is proposing an Ultra Long Range (ULR) variant of both to Qantas, which the airline has positively responded to.

The following table presents some key specifications of the contending aircraft. Note the asterisks – they’re referenced at the end of this article for clarity.

AircraftMTOW (t)**Range (km)Engines
Airbus A350-1000*316***15,557Trent XWB-97
Airbus A350-900ULR28018,000Trent XWB-84
Boeing 777-8 351.5 16,090GE9X-105B

Qantas’ CEO, Alan Joyce, has held thorough meetings with both manufacturers and now issuing a call for the best and final offers according to Flight Global.

A decision is expected to be made in August, with the winning manufacturer unveiling their product. Delivery is scheduled to take place in late 2022 with flights from Sydney and Melbourne launching in 2023.

Both Airbus A350 variants suitable for Qantas' Project Sunrise
Qantas Boeing 787 which currently operates their non-stop PER-LHR service

Joyce also has London, Paris and Frankfurt in mind as well as Chicago in the United States, however planning is ongoing and is subject to approval.

Unfortunately for curious passengers and aviation enthusiasts, Qantas has elected to drop the idea of below deck modules for bedding, gyms and office spaces because of the weight involved.

Instead, Qantas will be offering an upgraded cabin product as well as an area for economy and premium economy passengers to stand up, stretch and hydrate.

Both aircraft are unable to carry cargo on the flights and have never been capable of reaching Joyce’s dream capacity requirements, however he remains confident the airline can pull it off.

All that’s needed now is for operating crew to agree on the conditions of the flight and undergo the required preparation work.

What aircraft do you see Qantas choosing?

*A350-1000 range – potential ULR range unknown

**Maximum Takeoff Weight

***MTOW increase to 319t being studied for ULR