Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Air India’s flights to nowhere to take Indians on scenic sightseeing joyride: Report

Taking cue from Australian national carrier Qantas Airways, Air India is planning to start its own ‘flights to nowhere’ that will take off and land at the same airport, giving passengers a scenic view of major sights in India, officials familiar with the matter told Hindustan Times.
Pricing and modalities are yet to be finalised but airline officials told the publication that these flights will fly low giving passengers an aerial tour of famous locations in India. 
 “Yes, we are exploring the possibility of starting a scenic flight service. Other details are to be decided,” an Air India spokesperson told the news agency, adding that wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 747, a jumbo jet will be used to fly these routes. Low-level flying would mean flying at Minimum Obstacle Clearance Altitude (MOCA), which is the lowest safe flying level without hitting buildings or natural obstacles. This varies based on the city and region. 
“For example, for Mumbai, the MOCA is about 3,000 feet. In such cases the air traffic control takes the call and allows an aircraft the level it can fly lowest at,” Aviation expert Mark Martin told the publication. A Boeing 747 aircraft can fly as low as 500-1,000 feet at an air speed of around 250 knots which is about 460 kmph. However, flying at such a low altitude would require safety approval from Air Traffic Control depending on the region it plans to fly in. 
 However, health experts and doctors have sounded alarm and cited risks of such flights as Covid-19 cases in India continue to rise. Dr T Jacob John, a retired professor of clinical virology told the publication that there are some risks but if people are properly screened, it is a good initiative. 
 23/09/20 Deccan Herald
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