Monday, October 31, 2016

Tailwind gives Air India a free flight

When Air India flight AI 173 took off from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in wee hours of October 15 for San Francisco, not many passengers were aware that their flight is about to make a history.

The non-stop flight on long range Boeing 777-200LR that circumnavigated the earth cruised on what became the world's longest air-route.

Interestingly while 1,000 km were added, the journey time was cut about 2 hours 15 minutes by taking advantage of a jet stream (fast moving tailwind) over North Pacific Ocean.

So strong is the tailwind that the fuel consumption is less despite addition of a huge distance.

The route for return flight AI174 hasn't changed as there isn't any tailwind benefit.

The airline plans to further better the route in January next year and reduce the flight time further, depending upon the changing wind pattern.

Dhananjay Kumar, senior manager, corporate communications, Air India, said each AI173 flight will now save 1 tonne of fuel. “That means every fifth flight will be free for us,” said Kumar.

“Till last week, after starting of flight since December 2015, the route taken was through North Pole and South of Canada,” said Soumen Mukherjee, an industry analyst specialising in airline routes.

While the Delhi-San Francisco flight covered 15,142 km, an increase of around 1,000 off km over the earlier route, the time taken to reach the destination was just 14 hours 30 minutes as against 16 hours 44 minutes earlier.
31/10/16 Shahkar Abidi/DNA

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