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World's longest scheduled flight to come to an end.

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The world's longest flight between New York-Singapore will be coming to an end later this year. (news.yahoo.com) さらに...

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Squigish
Squigish 3
It's also worth noting that airlines don't fly the shortest route, they fly the _fastest_ route, subject to airspace restrictions. It looks like the route varies considerably from day to day. Compare the close-to-great-circle route at http://flightaware.com/live/flight/SIA21/history/20130809/0300Z/KEWR/WSSS with the similar-to-the-cartoon route at http://flightaware.com/live/flight/SIA21/history/20130813/0300Z/KEWR/WSSS


The IST-SYD route in the cartoon didn't look too far off either, but DFW-SYD went the wrong way around the world.

There's also a big difference between the longest scheduled flight and the longest possible flight. If I recall correctly, the longest unrefueled flight in a commercial-sized aircraft was HKG-LHR via North America, travelling more than halfway around the world. But this was a demonstration flight with minimal cargo.


Technically speaking, any plane capable of in-air refueling is limited only by crew endurance and engine lubrication/maintenance. Large planes like the E-4B are designed specifically for ultra-endurance. This capability is not just theoretical, the E-4Bs are the primary mode of transport for the Secretary of Defense when travelling abroad, and they have flown nonstop from Washington to Australia, with in-air refueling. While the VC-25s ("Air Force One") are also capable of in-air refueling, my understanding is that they typically don't refuel the plane mid-air with the president onboard, due to the added risk of the operation.

Incidentally, most of the longest-duration flight records have been held by civilians in small planes, with home-made refueling solutions, not by the USAF.
RetAF
RetAF 2
The KC10 had a 350M fuel capacity and back when I was flying them (81-94) I ran a theoretical "full to dry tanks" flight plan and came up with about 23 hours. That equated to flying from any point on the globe to any other point.

When we first got the KC10s in 1981 there was a plan to do a polar circumnavigation with a flight of two KC10s. Something on the order of about 44 hours. We planned four air refuelings, two as receivers (KC10 was receiver capable) two as tankers, one in each "quad" of the journey. Purpose was to show the long range capability of the airplane. The route was to be from Eilson AFB, AK (Fairbanks) and return, with the only the Alaska and Antartica land masses to be flown over, the rest being open ocean. I seem to remember the only limiting factor was oil consumption by the engines which was 80 hours (have no idea who figured that one out).

Interesting facet of the planning was the fact you flew in a straight line, no turns and were either going 180 or 360 depending on which pole you were headed to. Back then it was INS only so we had to figure a way to fly over the poles since you couldn't program 00N or 00S in the INS. So we flew to a point just short of the pole, and the next point was over the top, or bottom, with the longitude 180 from the inbound. Presto! Over the pole we went. No problem with time zones either as you flew north/south/north again...no east/west involved.

Sadly, the mission never was approved and to this day I don't think a polar circumnavigation of the earth flight has ever taken place.
PhotoFinish
The theoretically shortest-distance great circle route is only an approximation of a possible route actually flown. You can even use a piece of yarn on globe to see the great circle the old-school way. Or just plug in the 2 airports on one of the great circle websites available nowadays.

The flight planning computer algorithms take lots of other things into consideration like winds to plan the shortest-time, most fuel efficient route. No sense in staying in the plane longer using up more fuel flying against wind, when a better route option will a allow a shorter, faster flight with literally "the winds at your back" helping you along as much as possible.

The further the distance between the 2 end points (eg SIN - EWR) the more variability possible in the route, as more inputs over these longer distances must be incorporated.

Consider that the plane used for this Newark - Singapore flight flies almost all the way around the globe every 2 days. Though polar routes seem to be mostbcommonly chosen, with the return flight to SIN being more polar, that is going straight up and over or close to the birth pole and coming straight down the other side.
PhotoFinish
Anyone know why some flight maps on FA seem to not map properly even though the data for the flight is present and the most part accurately represented in the track log? (maybe D B knows?)

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I don't mean those representations when the flight goes off one side of the map and an extra segment is added straight across the map to the point on the opposite side of the map where the flight cones back into sight. While that segment is not accurate and should be removed, the rest of the flight seems properly shown.

My concern is those other flights where most of the flight's route is not properly represented, and you get a bunch of horizontal straight lines on the map, with the "flight" going straight across often in the vicinity of the equator, but no where near the actual flight path (as described by the flight data in the track log).
Moviela
If you have ever played the Bombay to Berkeley 40 hour lost bag blues you can appreciate the Singapore long flights. Personally I am sad to see SQ 37/38 go the way of the Dodo. They thought they could make money with Airbus 340-500 four engine jets. Not even EADS made money on the 340. Airbus took all five back. As a frequent user, I enjoyed a less than 3 hour dividend over a 1 stop flight because the cruise speed and altitude limits of the A340 (and most Airbus planes) made it low and slow.

The best part of the flight was 3 sets of Singapore girls.

I prefer to break a long journey near the end rather than the middle. LAX to SIN was perfect for a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, or Calcutta. You got a nice long rest, a SSS in the lounge at Changi and arrive fresh as a daisy after a short hop.

They can park the A340-500's in the desert next to the B747SP's as birds of a feather.
JENNYJET
I am sorry if I appear somewhat dense but why is it the longest flight when it is possible to fly the Pacific rather than the Atlantic and over Europe and Asia? The graphics in that mini movie suggests such a route....and Ric sir, I found flying the A340 probably the most stress free experience in the air as a passenger over any other aircraft of that type and purpose. A regular LHR-CMB 12 hour flight on Sri Lankan A340 felt like a bunny hop on a B737 on a 1 hour domestic flight!!

Sadly, the big 4 engined aircraft seem to be dying out in favour of the big twins and I simply do not trust them over vast oceanic routes!
Moviela
The graphic in the clip was incorrect in showing the flight path. Navigators know to fly a Great Circle, but reporters have no idea of where they are let alone where they are going or how to get there.

I look at comfort level another way. Four engines have twice the motive hardware that can fail as a twin. I believe the ETOPS (engines turn or passengers swim) rating makes the twins as safe as a journey in an elevator.

If I had a set of worry beads they would exhibit a fine polish after a journey knowing the flight control theory used by Scarebus.
rgatley
Here's the shortest (Great Circle) route...the animation was not a reflection of reality.
http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=Ewr-wsss
JENNYJET
.....but is it the shortest PERMITTED route? Airspace politics excepted?
rgatley
Yes. It's a bit far north and you won't get the direct routing through China but it's very much like the Hong Kong-New York route. Overflight permits are not a problem. The cartoon route is not viable.
DIRECTFLT
In the halcyon days of dirigible flight, passengers were airborne for --days-- . . . .

Are the Sin/Lax flights alos going away ? ?

Everything else runs under 17 hours...

But ideally, I would break up a l-o-n-g flight about half way to get my ground legs. Or, if I was wealthy, I could do a 16 hour in a sleeper..
ferraraj
Just a slight correction...its SQ (SIN) 21/22 KEWR-WSSS

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