Saturday, December 24, 2011

Airlines given permission to fly over North Pole for the first time slashing the hours to exotic destinations

boeing 777
A British Airways Boeing 777 which will be able to take a 'short cut' over the North pole
Airlines given permission to fly over North Pole for the first time slashing the hours to exotic destinations

Air passengers will be able to cut the times of long-haul flights by as much as half and fly faster to exotic destinations under a new relaxation of aviation rules.

It could also mean cheaper and cleaner flights for British holidaymakers.

The new rules will allow carriers operating in the South Pacific, to take a 'short cut' over the North Pole for the first time.

While pilots from Australia taking passengers to South America will be able to steer more direct courses making big savings in time, fuel and emissions.

Until now, Boeing’s 777 and the new 787 ‘Dreamliner’ jets had for safety reasons to stay within a  three hour range (180 minutes) of the nearest diversion airport.

Under the new rules, that has been nearly doubled to five and a half hours, (330 minutes) taking account of improvements in aircraft and engine  technology.

It means, for example, that planes from the UK  will be able to take a non-stop flight - dubbed 'Santa's short cut' - over  the North Pole to destinations such as Hawaii, Alaska or French Polynesia.

It also means shorter journeys, cheaper flights, less fuel, and lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) - the so-called greenhouse gas’ blamed for global warming.

The ‘extended operations’ rules define the time that an aircraft is permitted to be from an emergency landing site in case of an engine failure and is applied to two-engine jets.

It follows a decision  by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to allow up  to 330-minutes ‘extended operations’ for Boeings'  777 fleet.

It allows airlines operating Boeing  777-300ER (extended range), 777-200LR (longer range), 777 Freighter and 777-200ER models equipped with General Electric engines to fly up to 330 minutes from a potential ‘diversion’ airport.

Approval for the Boeing 777-200ER equipped with British Rolls-Royce and American Pratt & Whitney engines is expected to follow over the next few months.

The first airline to take advantage of the new longer ‘extended operations’ option is Air New Zealand which earlier this month flew from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Capt. David Morgan, chief pilot for Air New Zealand said: ‘What this means is that the aeroplane  is able to fly a straighter route between pairs of cities and that's good for the environment.

‘Less fuel is burned and less 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.’

Virgin Atlantic airline president Sir Richard Branson said: 'This new development really does open up a whole new world.

'Our new fleet of 787s could well be flying to Honolulu or even Fiji one day.'

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