Dear Capt Lim,
First of all I would like to say that this is the greatest aviation website on the Internet. I have some questions about Boeing 777 and Polar routes.
PIA (Pakistan International Airline) is planning to operate Boeing 777's from Pakistan to USA and Canada via the Polar routes in the future,
- I want to know about Polar routes. How many airlines are operating over these routes?
- Are the Boeing 777's capable of operating on Polar route? What about the Boeing 747- 400?
- What forms of communication are used? What are the alternate and emergency airports?
- Who control the Polar flights - Euro or Russia?
- Where can we file the ATC flight plans and to whom would they be addressed to?
- Can I get a copy of the computerized fight plan (CFP) of any airline/aircraft?
1. There are many major Airlines operating the Polar routes, notably United, Continental, Northwest, Delta, Air Canada, Air China, Russia's KrasAir and Cathay Pacific. The advantages are obvious; it reduces the flight time, increases the payload and also there is the absence of turbulence.
However, polar routes give rise to some issues that are absent in the conventional flights. Polar routes subject airplanes to operate under extreme temperatures in the artic environment where suitable and alternate airports are limited. They require special navigation and communication equipment.
There is the problem of ozone shield as the airplane would be flying above the Tropopause. In-flight fuel management due to the cold fuel is some additional issues to be considered. If fuel temperatures approach temperature limits in flight, aircraft have to change altitude to а warmer level or increase the speed (Increasing the Mach number by every 0.01, results in an increase of half а degree Celsius in fuel temperature)
2. Yes the Boeing 777's, 747-400's and the Airbus 340-500's are all capable of operating the Polar routes.
3. Besides the normal communications, the modern data link and ADS (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) as installed on the Boeing 777 would be required for the Polar routes. The aircraft communications addressing and reporting services (ACARS) data link is the primary company communications and the CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) are also used. There is а CPDLC gap above 82 degrees North on both sides of the North Pole that is yet to be addressed and in the meantime, HF must be used in this area. For company communications, ACARS data link is used below 82 degrees north, but above that, HF radio for long distance operations control are pre-coordinated by airline dispatch with San Francisco Arinc, Stockholm and Cedar Woods Radio.
Here are some of the alternate or emergency airports for the Polar routes. At Polar-1, there are Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk, at Polar-2, Irkutsk and Polar-3 and 4, Yakutsk. Krasnoyarsk has a 3700 meters long runway.
4. The Polar routes are controlled by Russia and Canada.
5. Flight planning services are available from SITA (Airline Telecommunication and Information Services) at a fee from:-
Flight Operation Services
London Data Processing Centre
Clock Tower Road,
6. Get Pakistan International Airlines to pay a fee to SITA above and you will be able to get a sample copy of the Computerized Flight Plan (CFP) of any airline or aircraft.