Bengaluru, Jun 11: An all-women cockpit crew operating Air India's inaugural San Francisco-Bengaluru flight arrived in Karnataka's capital after flying over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometres.
The flight number AI176 left San Francisco on Saturday at 8.30 PM (local time) and arrived in Bengaluru at 3.45 AM on Monday, according to Air India sources.
Flying over the North Pole, this is also, arguably, the second-longest route in the world for a commercial flight. The landmark flight spanned a distance of 13,993 kms, linking two tech hubs located diametrically at opposite ends of the world with a time zone change of about 13.5 hours.
Commanded by Capt Zoya Aggarwal, the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft also had in the cockpit Capt Papagiri Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware and Capt Shivani Manhas. Captain Zoya has a flying experience of over 8,000 hours and has over 10 years of experience commanding a B-777 aircraft.
A huge posse of mediapersons gathered at the Bengaluru Airport as the four pilots emerged out of the arrival terminal, welcomed with a huge round of applause. The beaming foursome showed no signs of any jetlag as they proudly proclaimed their arrival with a thumbs up.
“It has been a great experience. Today, we successfully completed one of the longest flights as an all-women team, a dream realised to connect the world’s two Silicon Valleys. We have turned a new chapter in aviation history,” remarked Capt Zoya.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, "Way to go girls! Professional, qualified & confident, the all women cockpit crew takes off from San Francisco to Bengaluru on @airindiain's flight to fly over the North Pole. Our Nari Shakti achieves a historic first."
Air India too expressed its elation when it tweeted, "Imagine this : -All Women Cockpit Crew. -Longest flight into India. -Crossing the North Pole It's here & happening! Records broken. History in the making by AI176 from @flySFO to @BLRAirport. AI 176 is cruising at 30000 feet."