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Air India New Delhi-San Francisco flight to fly over North Pole:

The Air India (AI) announced its inaugural passenger flight over the North Pole region from August 15 between New Delhi and San Francisco. The first commercial service will be operated by Captain Rajneesh Sharma and Captain Digvijay Singh It marked the "maturing of civil aviation in India as another frontier is crossed. Air India conquered this frontier in 2007.He took delivery of the brand new aircraft and flew it over the North Pole from Seattle to New Delhi.The Passengers will benefit from the reduced fuel consumption and a better environment from the reduced carbon emissions.Air India is in a unique position to offer direct (non-stop) flights between India and North America but the Polar route between the two countries.India and North America benefit immensely by using existing North Polar routes for commercial air operations. The AI has flights to the US from the Atlantic and Pacific routes as part of its endeavor to conserve fuel, slash travel time, improve aircraft utility and reduce carbon emissions.

According to AI, the fuel-saving on the Polar route is expected to be in the region of 02 to 07 tonnes with a resultant decrease in carbon emission of 06 to 21 tonnes per flight. The North Pole region gave airlines an opportunity to reach destinations previously not available for non-stop services and reduce flying times on existing routes and city pairs. The increased route resulted in major improvements in areas of aviation infrastructure like communications, air traffic control, and services supplies at remote airports. The Polar region still falls short of the infrastructure and the logistics standards of the more widely used air-spaces, thereby offering unique opportunities laced with distinct challenges. The area of Magnetic unreliability, limited choices for diversion to alternative airports, solar radiation, fuel freezing, passenger and aircraft retrieval in case of diversions, are some specific factors requiring active mitigation to ensure equivalent levels of safety.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)`s Operations Circular 02.2019 on `Polar Operations` clearly defines the requirements for airlines to operate in the Polar region with sufficient documentation and clear guidelines.

The AI has secured approvals from the DGCA and FAA, crew training, weather monitoring, alternate selection, and aircraft serviceability are enhanced to ensure safety in operations.

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