Meet Air India’s all-women pilot crew that made history   

A team of four women pilots on January 11 created history by flying Air India’s longest direct route flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru at Kempegowda International Airport

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NH Web Desk

A team of four women pilots on January 11 created history by flying Air India’s longest direct route flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru at Kempegowda International Airport. This was the longest non-stop flight by any Indian airline. Operated by four women pilots, the flight covered a distance of 16,000 kilometres and flew over the North Pole. The flight, AI 176, departed from San Francisco at 20:30 hrs (local time) on January 9 and arrive at Bengaluru at 03:45 hrs (local time) today.

Captain Zoya, who was the youngest woman pilot to fly a Boeing-777 in 2013 and has an experience of more than 8,000 flying hours, said this will be another feather in her cap.

“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 Zoya told media persons.

Congratulating the pilots, Air India said on Twitter, "Welcome Home Capt Zoya Agarwal, Capt Papagiri Thanmei, Capt Akanksha & Capt Shivani after completing a landmark journey with touchdown at Bengaluru airport. Kudos for making Air India proud. We also congratulate passengers of AI176 for being part of this historic moment."

Leaders across political lines hailed the pilots for their landmark achievement. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said tweeted: “In a moment to cherish and celebrate, women professionals of Indian civil aviation create history. Heartiest Congratulations to Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware and Capt Shivani for flying over North Pole to land in Bengaluru from San Francisco.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Congratulations to the all-women cockpit crew for completing Air India’s longest flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru over the North Pole. You have made the country proud."

It was the inaugural non-stop flight between San Francisco and Bengaluru. The flight was operated with a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft with a seating capacity of 238 seats. Aviation experts believe that flying over the North Pole is extremely technical and requires skill and experience.

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