The photograph you see above is of the proud crew of Air India that flew from New Delhi to San Francisco in what is considered now to be the world’s longest non-stop flight. The flight took 14-and-a-half hours to cover the mammoth 15,300 kilometre distance and essentially circumnavigating the globe. The crew took off at 4 am on October 16 from Delhi reaching their destination in the US at 6 am the same day, trudging briefly into October 15 as they crossed the International Date Line.
The Del-SFO route was initially second on the table of longest non-stop flights, behind the Dubai-Auckland flight operated by Emirates. But Air India was able to jump over Emirates by changing the direction of travel towards San Francisco, by soaring over the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. In doing so, the national flag carrier managed to clock a greater distance in lesser time. A senior official of the airline had told the Times of India that flying east for the pilots was easier as they had the help of strong tailwinds that can potentially increase the aircraft’s ground speed. The return leg from SF to Delhi takes the earlier Atlantic route.
It is said that Air India, that uses a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, would be able to save up on fuel with the shorter flight time as well. The carrier uses around 9,600 litres of fuel after every hour of flying.
Reports say the Air India record is likely to be broken soon as Singapore Airlines plans to bring back the Singapore-New York flight, which will undertake the journey in a whopping 19 hours.
Some of the other non-stop flights are Dallas-Sydney of Qantas, Johannesburg-Atlanta of Delta Airlines and Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles of Etihad.