Air India to operate Delhi-San Francisco flight over Polar region on Aug 15

Air India to operate Delhi-San Francisco flight over Polar region on Aug 15
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Mumbai: Taking a new flight path that will save time as well as fuel, Air India will start flying to San Francisco from the national capital over the Polar region.

With the new route, the flight duration would reduce by around one-and-a-half hours and fuel savings would be in the range of 2,000 to 7,000 kilograms per flight, according to an Air India spokesperson.

The flight duration will reduce from 14.5 hours to 13 hours. The inaugural flight will be on August 15.

Air India operates a daily flight from New Delhi to San Francisco. The airline has flights between India and North America over the Atlantic and the Pacific routes.

"Polar routes between India and North American destinations are yet to be utilised. Situated on opposite sides of the Northern Hemisphere, India and North America would benefit immensely by using existing North Polar routes for commercial air operations," the airline said in a release.

The fuel savings are expected to be in the region of 2,000 to 7,000 kilograms on these routes with the resultant decrease in carbon emission of 6,000 to 21,000 kilograms, per flight, it said.

On August 15, the inaugural revenue flight over the Polar region would be piloted by Captain Rajneesh Sharma and Captain Digvijay Singh. "Passengers will benefit from the reduced flight times, the airline from the reduced fuel consumption and the environment from reduced carbon emissions," the release added.

There would be around 300 passengers on the flight which would be operated by a Boeing 777, the spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, aviation regulator DGCA came out with the requirements that need to the fulfilled by airlines for Polar operations.

Careful risk analysis has been conducted and crew training, weather monitoring, alternate selection and aircraft serviceability have been enhanced to ensure safe operations on this route, Air India said.

Approvals are in place from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The airline also said a reputed diversion support agency would assist in aircraft and passenger retrieval in case of diversion.

According to the spokesperson, Air India would be the first airline in the world that would have flights over the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Polar region.

As per Air India, in 2007, the airline flew a Boeing 777 over the Polar region under the command of Captain Amitabh Singh, who is currently director of operations.

"Upon taking delivery of the brand new aircraft, he flew the aircraft over the North Pole from Seattle to New Delhi, becoming the first Indian pilot to do so. It is a logical progression from that to now seeking regulatory permission to fly with passengers on this route," the release said.

The national carrier also said that most of the Polar region still falls short of the infrastructure and logistics standards of more widely used airspace.

"These routes offer unique opportunities, but also present unique challenges.

"Area of magnetic unreliability, limited choice for diversion alternate airports, solar radiation, fuel freezing, passenger and aircraft retrieval in case of diversion are some of the specific factors which require active mitigation to ensure equivalent levels of safety. Sufficient documentation exists to provide clear guidelines for this purpose," the release said.

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