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Air India

Air India Becomes the First Commercial Indian Airline to Try the Northern Route

Air India Becomes the First Commercial Indian Airline to Try the Northern Route
Jonathan DeLise

On August 15th—the 73rd anniversary of Indian independence—Air India (AI) 173 from New Delhi (DEL) to San Francisco (SFO) notched a place in the record books as the first regularly scheduled passenger flight by an Indian airliner to overfly the North Pole. Utilizing a Boeing 777-200LR (long-range) aircraft, Captains Digvijay Singh and Rajneesh Sharma were at the helm of the storied flight, which took approximately 15 hours and 45 minutes to complete the journey. All passengers aboard AI173 received a souvenir certificate marking the newest historic moment in Indian aviation.

Whether or not AI173 takes the polar route depends on various factors in daily flight planning; on those less than ideal days, the long-haul trek would go Transpacific (TPAC), increasing not only the flight time by roughly 90 minutes but also fuel costs and carbon emissions.

Although AI173 is the first commercial Indian flight to be plying the northerly route, August 15th was not the first time an Indian airliner crossed the North Pole; Captain Amitabh Singh took delivery of a Boeing 777 jet from Seattle’s Boeing Field (BFI) to New Delhi in 2007.

Other Air India destinations in the United States include New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Washington, D.C. (IAD), and Chicago (ORD), in addition to San Francisco.

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