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I-Day joy: Air India to undertake first direct flight to US through North Pole from August 15

Air India is going to offer non-stop flights between India and North America to passengers using the existing North Polar routes for commercial air operations starting August 15.

Air India's non stop flights between India and North America

Air India is going to offer "non-stop flights" between India and North America to passengers using the existing North Polar routes for commercial air operations starting August 15.

"Air India is in a unique position to offer non-stop flights between India and North America. In our constant endeavour to conserve fuel, reduce travel times, improve aircraft utility and reduce carbon emission, we have flights via the Atlantic and the Pacific on these routes," Air India said in a press release.
 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Polar routes for commercial air operations

"Polar routes between India and North American destinations are yet to be utilized. 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," India's public carrier added.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Unique challenges

"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," Air India said.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Fuel conservation

"The fuel savings are expected to be in the region of 2000 kgs to 7000 kgs on these routes with the resultant decrease in carbon emission of 6000 kg to 21000 kg, per flight. This is part of the initiatives of the Fuel Conservation Committee set up by the Director Operations," the release read.
 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Not the first Air India aircraft to fly over the North Pole

Interestingly Air India had conquered this frontier in 2007 when a Boeing 777 flew over the polar region under the command of Captain Amitabh Singh, the present Director 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.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Passengers' safety first

A reputed Diversion Support Agency has been retained by Air India to assist in Aircraft and Passenger retrieval in case of diversion. 

The required permissions have been obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States for the flight.

Careful risk analysis has been conducted for these operations and measures have been taken to ensure equivalent levels of safety. 

Alternate selection and aircraft serviceability have been enhanced to ensure safe operations.

(Photograph:Reuters)