Air India’s flight AI173 earlier this month flew 15,300 km from New Delhi to San Francisco through the trans-Pacific route instead of the usual Atlantic route, which is shorter in length. Despite that, the non-stop flight was able to complete the journey in a record 14 hours and 30 minutes.
The trans-Pacific route meant that Air India had to fly an additional 1,400 km. But flying eastwards also meant that the wind was travelling in the same direction as the flight AI173, helping it reach the destination early. The Atlantic route would have subjected the flight to face the winds head-on, which would have slowed down the speed, and hence increased the duration of the flight and consumption of fuel.
Captain Rajneesh Sharma said this route also enabled them to save around 13 tons of fuel. Prior to this, the record for the world’s longest non-stop flight was held by Emirates, which covered the Dubai-Auckland route, 14,200 km in length, in 16-and-a-half hours. Captain Sharma added that Air India will be flying more planes via this route over the next six months.
Fun fact: Because the flight had to cross the international dateline, the flight took off at 4am from Delhi on Oct. 16 and landed in the destination at 6.30 am local time on the same day.