Air India is going to offer non-stop flights between India and North America to passengers using the existing North Polar routes for commercial air operations starting August 15.
"Air India is in a unique position to offer non-stop flights between India and North America. In our constant endeavor to conserve fuel, reduce travel times, improve aircraft utility and reduce carbon emission, we have flights via the Atlantic and the Pacific on these routes," Air India said in a press release.
"Polar routes between India and North American destinations are yet to be utilized. Situated on opposite sides of the Northern Hemisphere, India and North America would benefit immensely by using existing North Polar Routes for commercial air operations," the public carrier added.
The inaugural revenue flight over the polar region on August 15 will be piloted by Captain Rajneesh Sharma and Captain Digvijay Singh.
Speaking about the challenges airline carriers face while flying over the North pole, the release said: "These routes offer unique opportunities, but also present unique challenges. Area of magnetic unreliability, limited choice for diversion alternate airports, solar radiation, fuel freezing, passenger and aircraft retrieval in case of diversion are some of the specific factors, which require active mitigation to ensure equivalent levels of safety."
However, this will not be the first Air India flight over the North Pole, as in 2007 a Boeing 777 aircraft with Captain Amitabh Singh as the pilot had set the milestone with a flight from Seattle to New Delhi."Air India has already conquered this frontier in 2007 when a Boeing 777 flew over the polar region under the command of Captain Amitabh Singh, the present Director, Operations. Upon taking delivery of the brand new aircraft, he flew the aircraft over the North Pole from Seattle to New Delhi, becoming the first Indian pilot to do so," it added.
The required permissions have been obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States for the flight.
The release also stated about expected savings and reduction in carbon emissions per flight due to airlines taking the route above the North Pole.
"The fuel savings are expected to be in the region of 2000 kgs to 7000 kgs on these routes with the resultant decrease in carbon emission of 6000 kg to 21000 kg, per flight. This is part of the initiatives of the Fuel Conservation Committee set up by the Director Operations," it read.
( With inputs from ANI )