Aviation experts to study green impact of Air India's maiden flight on Polar route

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on October 21, 2019 Published on October 21, 2019

Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco non-stop flight on the Polar route in August is gaining recognition around the world.

A three-member delegation, which includes the two Air India pilots - Captain Digvijay Singh and Captain Rajneesh Sharma - who operated the flight on August 15, and an International Air Transport Association (IATA) representativem are in Singapore to tell the exclusive Cross Polar Working Group (CPWG), which is meeting for three days in the island nation, about how they achieved the feat of using the Polar route.

Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco non-stop service became the first Indian commercial flight to fly over the Polar region.

The CPWG consists of air navigation service provider representatives from Russia, Canada, Iceland and the US and international organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC).

The Polar route will help cut down the flying time between India and the US and Canada. Since the aircraft will be in the air for a shorter duration, the lesser fuel it will burn, which means there will be lesser carbon emissions. The airline would also benefit as its fuel bill would be lesser.

The CPWG was set up post 1992, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, which opened up new areas in the sky for countries to fly uninterrupted between Europe and the US from Asia, including from India, and in the opposite direction.

Canada, Russia, China and Kyrgyzstan are among the countries which are part of the CPWG who want to hear from India on how it used the harsh Polar route on its flights to and from India to the United States and Canada, flying over the Polar route.

If the CPWG accepts what Air India is presenting at the three-day meeting, it could lead to a tweaking of routes, leading to savings on aviation turbine fuel and a better outcome for the global environment.

AI’s flight comes at a time when ice bodies are melting at a faster pace and weather patterns are changing globally.

Incidentally, Captain Amitabh Singh, the current Director Operations of Air India, was on hand to take delivery of the first of the 68 Boeing aircraft in 2007. It was at that time that Captain Amitabh Singh is said to have been bitten by the bug to fly the Polar route .

The aircraft took off from Seattle with 1.28 lakh kilolitres of fuel, although only 1.001 lakh kl were consumed, when it reached Delhi after flying non-stop for 14 hours and 18 minutes over Canada, the North Pole, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Captain Amitabh Singh earlier this year told BusinessLine that planning for this flight was a challenge as a number of issues, including solar activity in the Polar region, and magnetic interference in communications had to be considered.

Hopefully with more areas in the sky opening up, the contribution of airlines like Air India flyingon such routes will go towards saving the environment.

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Published on October 21, 2019
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