Air India on Thursday became the first Indian commercial airline to cut across the North Pole during its voyage. The AI-173 Boeing 777 aircraft lifted off at 4 am from Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi on Independence Day.
The polar-route service was captained by pilots Ranjeesh Sharma and Digvijay Singh.
With about 243 passengers on board, the flight is bound to San Francisco is the only Indian commercial aircraft to fly over the polar region.
According to reports, the aircraft crossed the North Pole around 12.27 pm.
The AI-173 flight usually cut across longitudes over the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean to its destination San Francisco. The new route is the airline’s initiative towards lowering carbon emission and fuel consumption. Subsequently, the airfares and travel time is expected to reduced substantially.
The polar-route operation was set in place after the airline secured approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and FAA.
Air India crew went through special training and weather monitoring sessions, and the aircraft was put through alternate selection and enhanced aircraft serviceability to ensure safety in operations.