In spite of reeling under a burden of INR-55000-crore debt, Air India does not step back from embracing new challenges and achieving new milestones. In the first week of this month, Air India broke Emirates Airlines’ record of operating the world’s longest flight in the shortest duration by flying the 15300-km trans-pacific route between New Delhi and San Francisco in just 14.5 hours, which was made possible using the wind direction to increase speed.
This Independence Day of India, the national carrier of the country will take its maiden flight over the polar region between two different hemispheres. All set to become the first Indian airline to fly over the North Pole, Air India will make the most scenic flight from New Delhi to North America before the nation wakes up to hoist the Tricolor, sing the national anthem and tune to Prime Minister’s speech at the Red Fort on August 15, 2019.
Usually, Air India flights from New Delhi to San Francisco make their way through the airspace of Bangladesh, China and Japan covering a distance of 12000 km in 17 hours. The new transpolar route through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, the Arctic Ocean, and Canada will cut short distance by nearly 4000 km, and bring down the flight duration to 15.5 hours.
Scheduled on the Independence Day 2019, Air India’s inaugural transpolar flight will save 2000kg to 7000kg of jet fuel and reduce carbon emission by 6000kg to 21000kg per trip.
Challenges to Flights over North Pole
Magnetic unreliability, solar radiation, fuel freezing, limited access to emergency airports, and limited scope for passenger retrieval in case of emergency are some of the challenges to nonstop transpolar flights from one hemisphere to the other hemisphere.
Thanks to the ‘fuel freezing’ phenomenon for making it possible for transpolar flights to offer breathtaking views of the vast expanse of ice and its sparkling brightness. To prevent the freezing of jet fuel at -50 degree while flying over the North Pole, airlines take the aircraft to an altitude as low as 10,000 feet, at times, which lets passengers catch an eyeful of the Arctic.
If Air India flights descend to the same low as mentioned above, the passengers will be able to soak in the divine beauty of the North Pole.
Reportedly, Air India has taken all necessary preparations including specialized training for the crew, better recovery plans, high-tech communication equipment, and extra gear as well as cold weather suits for protection of its nonstop SFO to Delhi flights over the North Pole. Approved by FAA and Indian aviation regulator DGCA, Air India’s North Pole flights to and from San Francisco will have a professional diversion support agency to help with passenger and aircraft retrieval in case of emergency.
Though Air India is the first Indian airline to make its commercial flight over the North Pole, India ventured into the North Pole airspace 12 years ago when Captain Amitabh Singh, who is currently the operations director of Air India, took delivery of the brand new B777 aircraft and flew it over the polar region from Seattle to New Delhi in 2007.