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All-Woman Crew Pilots Air India’s Longest Direct Route Flight

. 3 min read . Written by Sanjana Bhagwat
All-Woman Crew Pilots Air India’s Longest Direct Route Flight

A four-woman pilot crew made history yesterday, successfully flying Air India’s longest direct flight from San Francisco to Bangalore. Flying over the North Pole and covering a total distance of about 16,000 km, the all-woman crew successfully landed in Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport on Monday.

On Saturday, Air India announced that this would be the longest commercial flight ever operated by an Indian airline. 

The All-Woman Air India Crew Is Proud To Have Helmed This Historic Moment

Captain Zoya Aggarwal was the flight’s comander. In the cockpit with her, were Captain Thanmai Papagari, Captain Akansha Sonaware and Captain Shivani Manhas. Captain Nivedita Bhasin, Executive Director (Flight Safety) at Air India, was also on the flight with them.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, expressed his pride before the flight Union. He said, “Air India’s woman power flies high around the world. Our Nari Shakti achieves a historic first.”

Captain Zoya Aggarwal said, “Today, we created world history by not only flying over the North Pole but also by having all women pilots who successfully did it. We are extremely happy and proud to be part of it. This route has saved 10 tonnes of fuel.”

Captain Shivani Manhas, said, “It was an exciting experience since it was never done before. It took almost 17 hours to reach here.”

Captain Aggarwal says they aimed to find the fastest and most fuel-efficient route to travel between the two points. She says the route their flight, Boeing 777-200LR, took, is the fastest possible route from San Francisco to Bangalore.

“This is the fastest route possible to connect two diametrically opposite points on the globe. It’s definitely one of the world’s longest flights and it’s still going to use lesser fuel compared to the same distance being covered across the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific,” she says.

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Captain Zoya Aggarwal Is Proud To Be The First All-Woman Crew To Have Undertaken A Journey Like This

Captain Aggarwal says she is proud that they’re one of the few crews to have successfully commanded a polar flight. But she’s particularly proud of being the first all-women crew to have done it. “The ‘Bharat Ki Betis’ are flying all the way from Silicon Valley of the US to the Silicon Valley of India,” she told India Today TV.

On the eve of her history-making journey, she recalled how when she first announced that she wanted to become a pilot her mother cried out of fear.

Her journey in the field did prove to be a challenging one. “When I joined Air India, I was one among a handful of women pilots. Everybody saw me as a kid but were very supportive. Nonetheless, it is a male-dominated field,” she said.

She had to work hard as a woman pilot, in addition to the responsibilities of being a pilot.

“In 2013, when I became Captain, my mom cried again but this time with the utmost joy,” she recalled.

With over 8000 hours of flying experience, and 8 years spent flying in command, the latest polar flight is yet another hard-earned feather in Captain Aggarwal’s hat.

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