Saturday, August 17, 2019

Air India becomes first Indian airline to fly over North Pole. It was quite a sight, says pilot

New Delhi: In a major feat, Air India operated its flight over the North Pole on Independence Day and has become the first Indian airline to operate commercial flights over the polar region. The Air India flight from Delhi to San Francisco usually flies over the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean but on August 15, it flew over zero degree north, The Times Of India reports.

Air India sources told TOI that the operations department had formulated two flight plans beforehand, ahead of its polar route debut. "We were asked to be prepared for a Pakistan airspace closure on August 15. Had they shut down their airspace to Indian flights, we still would have flown the polar route, though with a different routing that took the aircraft over Strait of Hormuz and then northbound for the pole," an Air India source was quoted as saying by TOI.

To reach San Francisco, flight Al-173 took off at 4am from New Delhi with around 243 passengers. It flew over Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and the North Pole by 12.27 pm. The flight was operated by Capt Rajneesh Sharma and his team - Capt Digvijay Singh with first officers Capt Siddesh Dadarkar and Capt Karan Aggarwal on the flight deck.

Speaking of the experience, Capt Rajneesh Sharma told TOI, "When we crossed Russia, we left all the air traffic behind. For close to nine hours we saw no traffic, no aircraft, just endless expanse of snow and ice. As we crossed over the North Pole and went down the other side of the planet, the navigation display swung 180 degree to go from North to point South. It was quite a sight."
It was nothing short of a brilliant experience as the commander addressed the passengers ahead of flying over the North Pole and said that "it's a gift from Air India to all travelling public", TOI reports.
17/08/19 India Today

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