Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Air India breaks record for world's longest flight - by swapping direction of Delhi-San Francisco service

Air India has snuck up on its competitors to snatch the title of the world’s longest non-stop flight route.

Until earlier this month, the airline’s Delhi to San Francisco route sat second in the table of greatest distances flown by a passenger jet, but then the Indian flag carrier changed the direction of travel from crossing to the Atlantic to the Pacific, and added 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) onto its route.

The eastern route meant that Air India’s Boeing-777 200ER flew 15,300 kilometres (9,506 miles), surpassing the previous holder of world’s longest flight, Emirates’ Dubai-Auckland route that clocks up 14,120 kilometres (8,825 miles). What’s more, by flying east over the Pacific, Air India took advantage of the 86mph tailwinds of the Jet Stream and knocked two hours off its flight time, covering the distance in just 14-and-a-half hours.

“The Earth rotates from west to east, and winds flow in that direction too,” a senior Air India official told the Times of India. “Flying west means facing strong headwinds, that decrease an aircraft’s actual ground speed, and flying east means getting strong tailwinds, which do the opposite."

He said that flying across the Atlantic usually means headwinds of 24kmph, making the aircraft’s speed around 776kmph, whereas the eastern route over the Pacific usually encounters tailwinds of 138kmph, making the aircraft’s ground speed around 938kmph.

The aircraft’s crew were said to be ecstatic at the record. “The aircraft took off from Delhi at 4am on Sunday (October 16) morning. We were in that date until Japan. After that, we crossed the International Date Line and were in October 15. By the time we landed in San Francisco, it was 6.30am on October 16,” one of the pilots told the newspaper.

The eastern route flies over Myanmar and China. It then heads over the East China Sea, skirting Japan, before crossing the Pacific and landing at the West Coast city.
24/10/16 Hugh Morris/The Telegraph