‘Double Sunrise’ flight in 1943 remains the longest time airborne for a commercial passenger flight

  • The longest flight ever took over 32 hours
  • During the flight, passengers saw the sunrise twice
  • A modern-day version of the plane that set the record is still operational today

Published on Jun 12, 2024 at 2:55 PM (UTC+4)
by Alessandro Renesis

Last updated on Jun 13, 2024 at 6:25 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

The so-called ‘Double Sunrise’ flight set a record that still stands over 80 years later.

They call it that because passengers on the flight would literally see the sunrise twice, technically on the same day.

Not only is this record still standing, it is probably going to remain unbeaten for the foreseeable future.

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The record was set on August 30, 1943, when a Qantas aircraft left Australia to reach Ceylon, which is modern-day Sri Lanka, 32 hours and 9 minutes later.

The plane, operated by Qantas with Royal Australian Air Force personnel, was a Consolidated Model 28, which people usually refer to as ‘PBY Catalina’.

Flying westbound from Australia meant passengers on the plane would see the sunrise when they left, and then again before landing.

The reason why the ‘Double Sunrise’ might never be beaten

The longest commercial passenger flight today leaves New York City and reaches Singapore 18 hours and 50 minutes later.

The plane, an Airbus A350-900 (one of the world’s largest airliners after the Airbus A380), doesn’t literally fly ‘across the globe’.

Instead, it follows a different route.

It takes off northbound, flying over Canada and Greenland before covering a large stretch of the journey flying over nothing but water, mostly the Arctic Ocean, before taking a route southbound over Russia and China.

It is geographically very difficult to find destinations that are further apart than that.

Even so, the Airbus A350-900 takes less than 19 hours because it flies at 945 km/h, which is a lot faster than the PBY Catalina.

And planes are getting faster, not slower.

What about the world’s shortest flight?

Ironically, or perhaps not ironically at all, the world’s shortest flight also set a record that’s very difficult to beat.

It only lasts 53 seconds, and while it may be relatively easy to break that record in absolute terms with private aircraft, it would be tricky to do so with a commercial flight.

# Tags - Aircraft, Travel


Alessandro Renesis

Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.