ENGLAND TO AUSTRALIA
One of my favourite things about Infinite Flight (apart from the ability to explore the world scenery in virtual form) is to test the limitations of the aircraft available and of course - the ultra long haul!
Ah, the humble 737-700. One of the very first aircraft I flew back in the space shuttle days of Infinite Flight. It was the first of the “next generation” 737 to be launched back in 1993 - perfect for those short to medium range flights and internal hops. Long haul? Nah, not really. Ultra long haul? Say what!
Nobody wants to be cooped up in one of these for a long time. Luckily, that’s where this luxurious, sumptuous black and purple Boeing Business Jet comes into play. Leather, wood and thick pile carpet for as far as the cabin stretches. But still, surely every aircraft has limits?
It sure does. And I pushed those limits on this flight. This relative tiddler is muscling in on Boeing 787 and 777-200LR territory here - surely these 2 little CFM engines can’t be punished on an almost 20 hour flight and live to tell the tale? Project Sunrise in a -700? Leave it out.
Here’s how it went. No passengers. No Cargo. Just an empty business jet and one pilot. Fuel tanks fully brimmed to the max (I know - it barely happens in real life, but we need lots of fuel!) “London Heathrow unicom - Test Flight 2022, taxiing to runway 27R”. It’s slow and heavy. Very heavy. Surprisingly, as we enter the runway and thrust up, it gains momentum well. Plenty of flaps and a smooth, natural rotation and we’re in the air!
It’s quite wobbly but stable. Banking out of Heathrow, it feels very heavy. I’m keeping an eye on and adjusting all the variables as we climb and keeping drag to a minimum to conserve fuel for the mammoth journey in the little plane. Flaps retracted and we’re on our plotted course east. Pushing through 28,000 we’re still wobbly - the cockpit is a bit shaky but once we hit 33,000 and settle for the initial cruise things stabilise.
Throughout the entire flight, the fuel remaining warning is screaming at me all the time. Initial rough estimations showed that we would need to find a suitable diversion near Indonesia. Gradual step climbing and the odd tailwind all helped and it wasn’t until 0:50 away from Sydney that the fuel remaining and ETE to destination finally almost matched up.
ONE SHOT, THAT’S YOUR LOT!
There is no margin for error here. I knew we’d be pretty much landing on fumes if successful and with that, one chance only to get this down. No go arounds, no touch and goes, no aircraft entering the runway at the wrong moment. It has to be right first time.
“Sydney Kingsford unicom, Test Flight 2022 is clear of all runways”. Made it! This was an exceptionally enjoyable journey, almost like flying into the unknown. Special thanks to the auto brake function for helping conserve that last bit of fuel without the need to engage too much reverse thrust. I shut down one engine on the short taxi to the nearest gate and called in the much needed fuel truck!
I hope you enjoyed coming on this journey with me and please forgive the “extra” 11th image of the flight log to prove that this isn’t made up.
Departure: EGLL (London Heathrow Airport, London, England).
Arrival: YSSY (Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, Australia).
*Flight time: 19 hours 24 minutes
Editing: Subtle changes to light, contrast and tones to bring out the images. Absolutely nothing fake added or removed.