Travellers on Air India’s flight from Delhi to San Francisco will now be taking the world’s longest non-stop flight. The flight switched its usual route over the Atlantic Ocean to cross over the Pacific Ocean, for the first time last week. The new route covers 15,300 km in 14 hours and 30 minutes.
The Pacific route is about 1,400km longer than the Atlantic Ocean passage, but it’s an economical choice. Tailwinds—which blow in the same direction as an aircraft—help the plane fly faster, shaving off two hours from the former flight path. “The Earth rotates from west to east, and winds flow in that direction too,” a senior Air India official explained to The Times of India. “Flying west means facing strong headwinds (that decreases an aircraft’s actual ground speed), and flying east means getting strong tailwinds, which does the opposite.”
The Boeing 777-200 range of aircraft used on this route burns 9,600 litres of fuel per hour. With a shorter flying time, the new route translates into more fuel savings for the airline. On its way back from San Francisco to Delhi, the airline will fly over the Atlantic to make use of tailwinds once again.
Until now, the world’s longest flight was Emirates’ Dubai-Auckland (14,120km). The Air India flight will remain the longest for the next two years, until Singapore Airlines launches its direct Singapore-New York flight, which will cover 16,500km in 19 hours, according to The Times of India.
Earlier this year, Air India set another record with its Delhi-San Francisco flight. The airline flew the world’s longest flight entirely operated by women for Women’s Day. The flight took 17 hours to cover 14,500km, with an all-female crew operating and supporting it, according to The Indian Express.
Currently, Air India operates the non-stop Delhi-San Francisco flight thrice a week.
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