Air India Breaks the Record for World’s Longest Flight

Oct 25, 2016

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Last December, Air India started flying a new route between Delhi (DEL) and San Francisco (SFO) — a route that the carrier will be flying six times a week starting in November. From the launch of this new flight, Air India has been operating this flight on a transatlantic routing. But, on October 16, the airline decided to change it up and try a transpacific routing.

Despite being over 1,800 miles longer than the most direct route, this new transpacific routing took two hours less than scheduled and reportedly saved 13 tons of fuel. This routing covers more than 9,500 miles (15,300 km), which breaks the current record for the longest scheduled commercial flight held by Emirates’ Dubai (DXB) to Auckland (AKL) route. However, this new record will only stand until Singapore Airlines re-launches its JFK-SIN route in 2018.

Here’s Captain Rajneesh Sharma — the captain of the historic flight — to explain the flight:

Since we’re AvGeeks here at TPG, we had to look into the details of this historic flight.

The shortest distance between DEL and SFO travels much further north.
The shortest distance between DEL and SFO travels much further north. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

Great Circle Mapper shows that the most direct route for this flight travels nearly directly north from Delhi (DEL) and through the Arctic before heading nearly directly south to arrive in San Francisco (SFO). This shortest route covers 7,706 miles (12,402 km).

The previous routing for Air India flight 173.
The previous routing for Air India flight 173. Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.

Air India’s typical routing for this flight took it over northern Europe before crossing the Atlantic to approach North America. This route is nearly 1,000 miles longer than the direct route, at approximately 8,637 miles (13,900km).

The new routing looks more direct, but it's much longer.
The new routing looks more direct, but it’s much further. Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.

The route that Air India used for this record-setting flight took the aircraft east instead of north. Note that, while this route seems shorter visually, this route is the longest of the three at over 9,500 miles (15,300 km) — which is over 1,800 more miles (2,900 km) than the most direct route. Despite this route being much longer, strong tailwinds help push the aircraft much faster than the other routings.

Another fun fact of this record-breaking trip: It departed the day after Air India’s 84th anniversary, but — upon crossing the international date line — the flight “went back in time” to celebrate the airline’s anniversary again.

H/T: Mashable

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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