Flown by 4 women pilots, Air India’s San Francisco-Bengaluru polar route flight takes off

2021-01-10 05:09:48

NEW DELHI: The inaugural flight of Air India‘s longest direct route — San Francisco (SFO) – Bengaluru (BLR) with four women pilots took off on Sunday morning.
The four — Captains Zoya Aggarwal, Papagari Thanmai, Akansha Sonaware and Shivani Manhas — became the first all-women crew to operate a flight over the North Pole on their way to BLR. They are operating a Boeing 777 200 (long range or LR) VT-ALG — named ‘Kerala’.

Capt Zoya Aggarwal (extreme left), Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware & Capt Shivani Manhas (Picture source: AI)

Capt Zoya Aggarwal (extreme left), Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware & Capt Shivani Manhas (Picture source: AI)

<p><em>VT-ALG. Boeing 777 200 long range, “Kerala”. (Picture source: SFO Airport)</em></p><p><em><br></em></p>

VT-ALG. Boeing 777 200 long range, ‘Kerala’. (Picture source: SFO Airport)
The SFO airport is wearing the colours of the Indian flag to celebrate this occasion.

The four pilots at SFO airport for operating the BLR flight taking the polar route. (Pic source: AI)

“And Countdown begins! Minutes away from take off of our nonstop flight frm San Fransisco – Bengaluru. Air India scripted history as all women cockpit crew rolls out AI176 on its record-making around the world voyage, possibly charting the Polar route from SFO to BLR,” AI Tweeted Sunday morning. The airline’s executive director (flight safety) Captain Nivedita Bhasin is also onboard. The aircraft pushed back for operating the flight just after 10 am Sunday (IST).

Captain Zoya

Captain Zoya
‘Kerala’ plans to take the polar route enroute Bengaluru for the first direct scheduled flight between south India and the US.

Captain Thanmai

Captain Thanmai

Capt Shivani Manhas

Captain Shivani Manhas
Bengaluru-SFO shortest flight distance is over 14,000 km, about 1,000 km more than Delhi-SFO. Very often airlines take longer routes to get tail winds and avoid headwinds. Kerala, for instance, took the Pacific route from Delhi to SFO.
The inaugural to Bengaluru will take the Atlantic route over North Pole — getting tail winds on both sectors.

AI’s Delhi-SFO is very often around the world trip for this reason as it circumnavigates the globe on the way out and back. The longer Pacific route means flying a distance of 16,234 km from Delhi to SFO but due to tail winds all the way, both flight time and fuel burn are less than what that will be on the shorter Atlantic route.

Divestment-bound AI is starting two new twice-weekly nonstops — SFO-Bengaluru and Hyderabad-Chicago. Tweaking operations as per current demand, AI will operate a B777 200LR on Delhi-SFO-Bengaluru-SFO-Delhi twice a week. And, a B777 300 (extended range) will operate Delhi-Chicago-Hyderabad-Chicago-Delhi with same frequency.

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