An all-women team of Air India made history on Saturday when they piloted the longest non-stop commercial flight operated by any airline in India from San Francisco in the USA to Bengaluru.
Stating that it is a matter of great national pride, Air India’s Captain Zoya Aggarwal told NDTV they were “looking forward to creating history”.
“It’s 16,000-odd km. So, we are looking at world’s longest flight. And, yes, we are going to try and fly the polar route (over the North Pole). However, it depends on multitude of factors like solar radiations and the turbulence. So, we are going to sit tight and hope that we will go polar and break all sorts of records,” she said.
Flight AI176 departed from San Francisco in the USA at 8.30 PM (local time) on Saturday. It is expected to land at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport at 3.45 AM (local time) on Monday.
Flying over the Arctic would shorten the distance between the two technology hubs — Bengaluru and San Francisco — which are approximately 13,993 km apart, and on opposite ends of the world with a time zone lag of 13.5 hours.
The total flight time on this route will be of more than 17 hours.
“The route will be San Francisco-Seattle-Vancouver and we would be going as high as 82 degrees north. Technically, we aren’t flying right over the pole but we are right next to it. And then we come south, most probably over Russia, and further down south to Bengaluru,” Captain Papagari Thanmai told NDTV.
It’s an area of magnetic field, Captain Zoya said explaining why can’t we fly directly over the North Pole.
Congratulating the team, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said on Twitter, “Air India’s woman power flies high around the world.”
Air India’s woman power flies high around the world.
All women cockpit crew consisting of Capt Zoya Aggarwal, Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware & Capt Shivani Manhas will operate the historic inaugural flight between Bengaluru & San Francisco.@airindiain@MoCA_GoIpic.twitter.com/HKT6IYo2Dw
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 9, 2021
Air India Executive Director of Flight Safety, Capt Nivedita Bhasin, is also be traveling on this flight, a statement from the airline said, adding that this is the first ever non-stop route between the West Coast of USA and South India.
Air India also plans to start its first ever non-stop service between Hyderabad and Chicago from January 15.