Flight times to longhaul destinations to be slashed thanks to Santa’s shortcut
Proposals to allow twin-engined civilian passenger jets to fly over the Arctic will reduce flight times and make destinations on the other side of the globe a one-flight hop. Until now, regulators have insisted the planes must always be within 3 hours of a suitable place to land. The US has now increased this to 5 and a half hours, and the EU may follow. The last time planes flew regularly over the North Pole was during the Cold War to avoid USSR airspace. Some fuel may be saved from some shorter flights.
Dec 27 2011 (Scottish Daily Record)
By Torcuil Crichton
SCOTTISH holidaymakers will soon be able to take “Santa’s shortcut” over the North Pole to longhaul flight destinations, thanks to a new aviation rules.
Proposals to allow twin-engined civilian passenger jets to fly over the Arctic will dramatically reduce flight times and make destinations on the other side of the globe a one-flight hop.
Until now, regulators have insisted the planes must always be within three hours of a suitable place to land.
This is because mechanical problems on a twin-engine plane a potentially far more serious than for a jet with three or four.
But US airline authorities have now nearly doubled the time limit to five-and-a-half hours to take into account the vast improvements in aircraft engine technology.
It is expected that the European Aviation Safety Agency will follow suit.
That means that the twin-engined Boeing 777 and the new 330-seat “leaner and greener” [apparently 290 is the most passengers in practice] Boeing 787 will be freed up to fly over the pole, saving on flight times and fuel.
So travellers boarding flights from London could be able to fly nonstop to Fiji in 18 hours – instead of a 24-hour journey via Los Angeles or Seoul. [These figures are contested – below]
Or passengers could board a flight in Edinburgh then touch down in Hawaii – after enjoying stunning views of the Arctic on the way.
First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the government would look at the potential benefits for the country.
On his recent trip to China, Salmond spoke about the importance of direct airlinks to the global superpower.
He said: “Progress on Santa’s shortcut across the pole could be a welcome Christmas gift to tourism, business and aviation in Scotland.”
“While Transport Scotland are already seeking more detail, it could potentially save millions of pounds in fuel costs, open up new routes and reduce damage to the environment.”
Boeing’s Larry Loftiss said: “This is the logical continuation of the Boeing philosophy of point-to-point service.
“Passengers want to minimise their overall travel time.”
Air New Zealand chief pilot Captain David Morgan said: “What this means is that the aeroplane is able to fly a straighter route between pairs of cities – and that is good for the environment. Less fuel is burned and less carbon monoxide [this is woefully ignorant – from a pilot. You would have thought he would know better … carbon dioxide] is emitted into the atmosphere.
“It’s also good for customers because flights are potentially shorter and passengers could arrive sooner at their destinations.”
A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots’ Association said: “Our members are confident that the safety case for equipment redundancy, pilot training and passenger welfare will be fully satisfied.”
The last time planes flew regularly over the North Pole was during the Cold War to avoid USSR airspace.
Talks are already under way to create direct scheduled flights between Scotland and Barbados and Salmond held out hopes for better links to the Middle East.
Longhaul revolution on the way
Fiji – 10,000 miles
Old time – 25 hours 30 mins
New time – 19 hours 30min
Tahiti – 9600 miles
Old time – 24 hours 30 mins
New time – 18 hours 30mins
Honolulu – 7300 miles
Old time – 19 hours 30mins
New time – 14 hours 30 mins
Anchorage – 4500 miles
Old time – 17 hours 30mins
New time – 9 hours 30 mins
One comment says: Only problem is that you can’t get 330 people in a 787. ( maximum 290 in a high density lay out 1-class configuration). Oh, and that you still can’t really fly fully loaded to Fiji from London as the 787 hasn’t got a range of 10.000 miles.
Bit a research wouldn’t hurt, I guess….