Women pilots to fly inaugural Air India’s SFO-Bengaluru service | Bengaluru News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: An all-women cockpit crew will operate the January 9 inaugural of Air India’s longest nonstop — San Francisco (SFO)-Bengaluru — which starts plying this week.
The airline has rostered four of its highly-experienced women pilots — Captains Zoya Agrawal, Thanmai Papagari, Sonwane Akanksha and Shivani Manhas — to fly a Boeing 777-200 (long-range or LR) for the inaugural via the polar route — en route Bengaluru — for the first direct scheduled flight between south India and the US.
“Two sets of two pilots each operate our ultra-long flights by turn. Besides the four pilots, our head of flight safety, a senior woman commander, will also be on board. While it depends on weather conditions of the day, we are planning the B777 will fly over the north pole en route Bengaluru,” said a senior AI official.
The four operated the Delhi-SFO late Wednesday with AI’s executive director of flight safety, Captain Nivedita Bhasin, on board.
The 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 tailwinds and avoid headwinds. The AI flight, for instance, took the Pacific route from Delhi to SFO. The inaugural to Bengaluru will take the Atlantic route over North Pole — getting tailwinds on both sectors.
AI’s Delhi-SFO is very often around the world as it circumnavigates the globe on the way out and back. The longer Pacific route means flying a distance of 16,234km from Delhi to SFO but due to tailwinds all the way, both flight time and fuel burn are less than what that will be on the shorter Atlantic route.
United Airlines will start operating a direct flight on Bengaluru-SFO from May 6, 2021. United stated that this route will be the longest-operated by any US carrier, and the third-longest in the world.
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 the same frequency.

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Sagar Biswas

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