Air India Taking Advantage of Tailwinds

On 15 October, Air India adjusted the routing of its Delhi—San Francisco flight to increase the distance of the flight by over 1000 kilometers. In doing so, however, the airline saved 2 hours and 15 minutes of flying time. How did they manage that? In a word: wind.

Track the Pacific flight to San Francisco as AI173/AIC173 and the return flight to Delhi as AI174/AIC174.

Flying the Jet Stream

The former polar route and the new Pacific route used by AI173

The former polar route and the new Pacific route used by AI173

Prior to this week, Air India’s flights between Delhi and San Francisco took a polar routing in both directions, flying north from Delhi over the North Pole and south through Canada. From 15 October onward, flight 173 is flying east from Delhi through China and over the North Pacific Ocean to take advantage of the Jet Stream, the high-altitude, fast moving air used by other flights crossing the Pacific.

Flights crossing the North Pacific Ocean with the help of the jet stream

Flights crossing the North Pacific Ocean with the help of the jet stream

We’ve previous written about flights crossing the Atlantic Ocean using the Jet Stream

While the distance flown will increase by over 1000 kilometers, depending on the speed of the wind, the flight will be between one and three hours shorter than the old polar route. Taking advantage of the tailwind offered by the jet stream on this route will also help the airline cut the amount of fuel it uses during the flight. Air India made the change after receiving approval from India’s Director General of Civil Aviation to operate on the NOPAC and PACOTS tracks that cross the Pacific Ocean.

The first AI173 flight to take advantage of the new Pacific routing

The first AI173 flight to take advantage of the new Pacific routing

The return from San Francisco will still fly north from San Francisco on a polar routing.

The return flight to Delhi still follows a polar routing

The return flight to Delhi still follows a polar routing

 

Featured image by Mohit S. Purswani