You Can Now Fly Over The North Pole with Air India!

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Yep, you read that right! In an ambitious venture, Air India's San Francisco-bound AI-173 marked history by becoming the first commercial Indian flight to fly over the Polar region. What makes this feat even more special is the fact that all of it happened on August 15 2019, India's 73rd Independence Day,

The flight took off from New Delhi at 4 am with 243 passengers on board and by 12:27 pm, the plane had crossed Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and the North Pole en route to San Francisco. Captain Rajneesh Sharma and his team, including Captain Digvijay Singh with first officers Captain Karan Aggarwal and Captain Siddesh Dadarkar were responsible for pulling off this feat with elan. Normally, Air India's Delhi to San Francisco flights take the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean route. However on Independence Day, the airline decided to fly over the polar region.

Keeping in mind mounting tensions with Pakistan, there was a possibility of the Pakistan airspace being closed off on August 15. Hence, Air India's operations department had to devise two flight plans with the alternative of flying over the Strait of Hormuz and then northbound for the pole, reported Economic Times.

The flight was a unique experience both for passengers onboard and the flight crew. Passengers could watch the aircraft flying over the polar region on their television screens while the cabin crew kept everyone updated on their progress via the public communication system. According to ET, Captain Rajneesh Sharma described what he saw on the fascinating journey,

"When we crossed Russia, we left all the air traffic behind. For close to nine hours we saw no traffic, no aircraft, just endless expanse of snow and ice. As we crossed over the North Pole and went down the other side of the planet, the navigation display swung 180 degrees to go from North to point South. It was quite a sight."

The polar-debut has more advantages to it than just covering a scenic route. The time saved on the polar route will range from five minutes to 75 minutes. The flying time recorded on this route was 14 hours 59 minutes as opposed to the normal 15 hours 45 minutes. The shorter route will also help save up to 2,500 kg of fuel, which in turn reduces carbon emissions by 7,500 kg.

The passengers on the historic flight were given a certificate recording the venture and marking the commencement of Air India's commercial flights that will ply over the North Pole. However, there are a few challenges that pilots face on this route such as limited options for diversion of flight to airports, solar radiation, fuel freezing and aircraft retrieval.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for a sight of Santa and his posse of reindeers the next time we we fly over the North Pole in Air India!

How excited will you be to fly over the North Pole? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Sat 08 24 19, 01:27 · Reply · Report