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Alan Joyce AC

Mr Joyce has been CEO and Managing Director of the Qantas Group since November 2008, overseeing the biggest transformation of the airline since it was privatised in 1995. He was previously the founding CEO of Jetstar. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (Physics and Mathematics) (Honours) and a Master of Science in Management Science, and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2017.

What scientific or medical breakthroughs or discoveries are you most excited to see within your lifetime? – Milena, year 11 student from Springbank Secondary College, SA


The only technology I can think of that has gone backwards is supersonic air travel. We started with Concorde. Boeing and Tupolev both had an aircraft that could achieve supersonic flight, but technology and economic problems have meant we have gone backwards since that time. At Qantas we actually put in an order for Concorde in 1964. We were going to fly from Sydney to London in 12 hours, but with four stops.

Concorde flew at a height of 64,000 feet and there was a belief it was damaging the ozone layer – there were only 20 of them in existence at that time, but the feeling was that if you had a fleet of 400 or 500 it would really damage the ozone layer. The other issue was the sonic boom. When it was tested over the united states in Oklahoma there were 10,000 people that complained – so the US congress passed a law that said supersonic aircraft couldn’t pass over land. And that was one of the reasons we had to cancel the order as we couldn’t have travelled to Europe without flying over land.

There are now a couple of start-up companies looking at how to make supersonic travel work, potentially on a small scale. Given the amount of fuel that’s burned you want to make sure it’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t generate too much CO2. So, there’s still a huge number of technical problems to overcome, but I think it would make the world a lot smaller, particularly for people in Australia.  It would be a game-changer but unfortunately, I think it may not happen in my lifetime.

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