Air India launches world’s longest flight

Air India deploys a Boeing 777 on its Delhi-San Francisco route (credit: Chris Parypa Photography)
Air India deploys a Boeing 777 on its Delhi-San Francisco route (credit: Chris Parypa Photography)

Air India has flown into the record books by operating the world’s longest commercial flight.

The national carrier has switched its Delhi-San Francisco service, which had previously operated westwards over the Atlantic, to an eastbound routing across the Pacific. Covering 15,100km, this becomes the world’s longest air route, in terms of distance, operated by any commercial airline today.

Interestingly however, the Pacific routing actually saves Air India time and fuel. Despite the extra distance, the flight actually took about two hours less (15 hours 55 minutes in total) to reach its destination. A senior AI official explained the reasons for this.

“The Earth rotates from west to east, and winds flow in that direction too. Flying west means facing strong headwinds and flying east means getting strong tailwinds, which does the opposite,” the unnamed official was quoted saying by TNN.

“While taking the Atlantic route to SFO, we usually face headwinds of 24kph. This means that if our aircraft is doing 800kph, its actual ground speed is 776kph. Taking the Pacific route will mean getting tailwinds of 138kph, which make the aircraft have an actual ground speed of 938kph.”

AI’s 15,100km Delhi-San Francisco route surpasses Emirates’ 14,203km Dubai-Auckland service as the longest commercial air route currently in service. It fails however, to eclipse the 15,345km Singapore-New York route previously operated by Singapore Airlines. This service was terminated in 2013, but SIA is planning to resume the route in 2018.

World’s longest non-stop air routes:

1)    Delhi-SanFrancisco (Air India)    –    15,100km
2)    Dubai-Auckland (Emirates)         –    14,203km
3)    Sydney-Dallas (Qantas)                 –    13,804km
4)    Singapore-San Francisco (United and Singapore Airlines) –    13,593km
5)    Atlanta-Johannesburg (Delta)     –    13,582km

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