Air India Becomes First Indian Airline To Fly Over North Pole

Air India Becomes First Indian Airline To Fly Over North Pole
Air India has become the first Indian airline to fly commercial flights over North Pole, Photo Credit: Rangeet Ghosh

Setting a new record in the aviation sector, Air India became the first India airline to fly over zero degree north.

OT Staff
August 26 , 2019
01 Min Read

Setting a new milestone, Air India’s New Delhi to San Francisco flight has become the first Indian carrier to fly over the polar region. A lot of international flights have earlier flown over the North Pole but this is a first for an Indian airline.

On August 15, 2019, the San Francisco bound flight AI - 173 instead of taking the usual route over the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, flew over zero degree north. This new route covers countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, The Arctic Ocean and Canada before entering the US. With this alternative route the travel distance was reduced from 12,000 kilometres to 8,000 kilometres. As per the standard air  route, the flight goes over Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Japan before crossing the Pacific Ocean. But with this new course the travel time can be brought down from excruciating 17 hours to 15.5 hours, saving nearly 90 minutes. However, this is beneficial only for the Delhi – San Francisco flights, as in other cases, it would just increase the travel time.

The decision by Air India to fly over the polar region was made after DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) issued a circular asking if any Indian airlines would be interested in the proposed route. As per the DGCA’s rules, any carrier applying to fly over the polar region must develop plans in advance. Accordingly, Air India had two contingency plans in place.

This new air route not only reduces travel time and distance between the two continents but it also has environmental implications. A reduction in distance can save fuel and also reduce carbon emissions. 

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