Flight Plan

Can you beat this? Around the world in 52 hours and 34 minutes

Ashwini Phadnis | | Updated on: Feb 20, 2018
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How many people do you know who were able to utilise their their jobs to fulfil their childhood dream?

Andrew Fisher, Vice-President, Fleet Planning, Etihad Airways, is one such person. On January 23 he managed to achieve his dream of flying across the globe in the shortest time span.

“While growing up I would collect airline time-tables and memorise them to know about the major airlines’ route networks and schedules,” the 42-year-old told BusinessLine in a telephonic conversation from Abu Dhabi.

Dream comes true

His passion, as a child, was looking at where airlines flew to and how often, their timings and the type of aircraft used.

Fisher, who has a Master’s degree in aviation and accounting from Lincoln University in New Zealand, flew from Shanghai to Auckland, Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam, and back to Shanghai, covering 41,375 km on scheduled flights operated by Air New Zealand, KLM and China Eastern.

This journey across the world in the shortest possible time made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. “The duration of my trip was 52 hours and 34 minutes. I beat the previous record by 3 hours and 13 minutes,” said Fisher – he got 15-16 hours of sleep on the entire journey.

What Fisher achieved was that he was able to travel to two places on the Earth that are exactly opposite to each other. “Given that the Earth is two-third water, there are not many city pairs where you can circumnavigate the world from a true perspective,” said Fisher. Shanghai and Buenos Aires are two such cities. The world record Andrew holds is for completing the journey in four flight sectors.

Needless to say, the trip required meticulous planning. It was in the works for 20 years, and Fisher faced two failed attempts before he started planning for the successful one in October last year. As all his flights were on scheduled commercial airlines, a logistical headache was that many of the flights that Fisher wanted to take were not daily ones.

“The China Eastern service out of Amsterdam to Shanghai was operating may be three times a week. The day I did the trip was the one day that both the opportunities lined up,” he recalls. “You have to line-up in your mind all the different sectors and all the different permutations and combinations, when specifically the airlines are operating, and how they connect to these.”

However, despite the planning, there were plenty of panic moments. When Fisher flew from Auckland to Buenos Aires, he realised that this was not an airport that he was familiar with, and the connection time for his next flight was 55 minutes. As he waited for the flight to leave Auckland came the bad news that the departure had been delayed by 15 minutes, which meant he now had just 40 minutes to move from one flight to another in Buenos Aires.

“Luckily the pilot made up the lost time and we landed in Buenos Aires ahead of schedule. I was able to do a few things before boarding the next flight,” said Fisher, who also maintains that he financed the entire trip on his own.

While Fisher concedes that his record can be broken, what he is confident about is that no one will be able to do the journey in four flight sectors.

“To break this record in fewer sectors will require an aircraft which can literally travel half way around the world on a commercially viable operation, and that is not where Airbus and Boeing are with their aircraft,” he says.

However, having been bitten by the bug, Fisher says he will look at breaking more records in the future, but for the time being, he is happy reliving his record. “Even though I was away from Shanghai for two days, I actually saw four sun rises,” he says.

Published on February 20, 2018

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