Air India's New Delhi to San Francisco flight could become the first Indian airline to fly over the North Pole. Quite a few international airlines use the North Pole route but none of the Indian airlines has ever used it.
This all started when the Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA), aviation regulator of India, issued a circular asking if any Indian airlines would be interested in flying over the North Pole and Air India showed interest.
The perk of flying over the North Pole is that it saves fuel and time. At the moment, the route that the New Delhi to San Francisco flight takes, it goes over Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Japan before it crosses the Pacific Ocean to enter the United States of America. This route takes the flight 17 hours of flying to reach its destination.
However, the new route would save 90 minutes making the travel time 15.5 hours. This route would include flying over Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, the Arctic Ocean, Canada, and then entering the US.
The current route of the flight is approximately 12,000 km and with the new route, it will come down to 8,000 km. However, the North Pole route is only being considered for the New Delhi to San Francisco flights as in other cases it would increase the flying time instead of reducing it.
The circular released by DGCA on August 6, 2019, also said, "In order for an operator to apply for approval to operate into the Polar Regions, a route study must be completed to define the requirement for transpolar flight routes. The operator applying for authority to fly in the Polar Areas must develop plans in preparation for all polar flights in the North and/or South Polar Areas, as appropriate."
It also said that the operator's plan for conducting operations within these areas must include, en route alternate airports for any emergency landing and in-flight diversions withing the polar region among other things.
Air India might start using the route by August end.
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