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Qantas Airways wants to launch the world’s longest flight—if technology can handle it

Qantas Airways wants to fly from London to Sydney, nonstop. The only thing holding them back is technology. Now, the airline just threw down the gauntlet to both Boeing and Airbus to create a plane capable of making the 20-hour flight by 2022, the Seattle Times reports.

“This is a last frontier in global aviation, the antidote to the tyranny of distance, and a revolution for air travel in Australia,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce at what sounds like a rather rabble-rousing news conference in Sydney on Friday morning. (Hopefully they played the national anthem while he was speaking).

Qantas wants a plane that can go at least 10,400 miles, and since their current fleet is a combination of Airbus and Boeing jetliners, their loyalties only lie with whichever company can pull off the technological marvel. “Both manufacturers are developing aircraft that can almost do the job—the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350ULR. We believe advances in the next few years will close the gap,” Joyce said, per the Seattle Times.

Currently, the longest flights commercial planes can manage before needing to refuel is less than 10,000 miles, when flying with a full passenger load. However, it’s a complicated algorithm of fuel needs, passenger and cargo weight, and the plane’s physical and operational costs that will ultimately make the decision. Whoever does manage the feat, the nonstop flight would be a godsend for anyone who travels between the U.K. and Australia and, of course, agoraphobes.ML