Qantas Dreamliner lifts off at night

Qantas flight heralds second stage of research partnership

26 March 2018
Researchers at the Charles Perkins Centre have collaborated with Qantas to transform air travel health and wellbeing, ahead of the airline's first Perth to London flight that departed Australia on Saturday.

The collaboration is a world-first between an airline and university, and a key industry partnership for the University of Sydney. Charles Perkins Centre researchers have worked with Qantas across a variety of fields including nutrition, physical activity, sleep and complex systems modelling to help design the Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger experience.  

To date, Qantas and Charles Perkins Centre have used existing research and information to design and develop strategies to counteract jetlag, influence menu design and service timing, pre- and post-flight preparations and cabin environment including lighting and temperature.

QF9 Perth to London heralds the start of a second stage of the project with the launch of the ‘Health and Wellbeing in the Air’ study. A select group of passengers will wear medical research grade and clinically approved wearable devices that contain algorithms that record physical activity/sleep and posture changes. The devices will collect data throughout the entire flight. 

Two devices will be worn on the wrist and one on the thigh to monitor and measure passenger activities. Passengers will also complete questionnaires about their overall state of mind, food and beverage consumption, how they feel before, during and after the flight, with the aim of collating data that provides information around patterns as well as individual differences.

Both the Charles Perkins Centre and Qantas partnership as well as the wearable technology study are long term with ongoing research to be carried out throughout the program. The wearable technology trials will take place on Qantas 787 flights between Australia and London.

Charles Perkins Centre researchers also contributed to the development of the airline’s new transit lounge at Perth Airport as part of the airline’s new approach at improving health and comfort.

Charles Perkins Centre Professor of Sleep Medicine, Peter Cistulli, said the overarching goal was to enhance the passenger travel experience and optimise well-being.

“We’ve worked with the University of Sydney’s School of Physics to create an airline-first bespoke body clock intervention using bright light to help kick start the adjustment of customers’ body clocks. Applying light at appropriate times helps reduce the effects of jet lag,” Professor Cistulli said.

The lounge is just one aspect of our partnership with Qantas to improve the wellbeing of travellers. We’ve also worked together to influence the menu and timing of the food and drinks service on the Perth to London route, cabin lighting design and temperature in the 787 and we are interested in seeing how customers will respond.
Peter Cistulli, Professor of Sleep Medicine

Earlier this month, Qantas unveiled its new menu to help reduce jetlag on long haul flights. Led by Qantas' Creative Director of Food, Beverage & Service Neil Perry, the new menus combined research from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre with inhouse experience of the Qantas and Rockpool teams to create dishes that encourage sleep at optimal times during the flight.

 “Qantas’ new menu incorporates the latest scientific knowledge on nutrition and hydration and our scientists are excited by this opportunity to discover how the wide variety of influences work together during long haul flights,” said Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, Professor Stephen Simpson.

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