opening of the new cross-polar routes earlier this year was another
milestone in the evolution of the air traffic patterns in the Northern
Hemisphere. In the past 10 years, various segments of airspace over
the former Soviet Union have become available to foreign air carriers.
Incrementally, airlines have been allowed access to trans-Siberian
tracks and routes in the Russian Far East. The most recent network
addition, the cross-polar routes, fills one of the last voids in
the air-route system.
Much has been made of
the novelty of cross-polar flight, but the reality is that airlines
have been flying through the Arctic region for more than 40 years.
Of course, during this time technology has improved dramatically
in areas such as navigation, communications, and meteorology. But
perhaps the most remarkable improvement has been in the reliability
of our airplanes and their systems. The 777, the most modern jetliner
in the industry, has the best reliability of any widebody airplane
ever built. With a diversion/turnback rate half of that of competing
airplanes, the 777 is an airplane you can depend on to fly over
the pole or anywhere in the world.
Beyond all the experience
and advances in technology, more always can be done to improve the
safety and efficiency of flight operations, which is why we at Boeing
continue to set ourselves apart in supporting our customers on issues
related to cross-polar operations. No manufacturer has done more
to expand the knowledge base or help airlines prepare for polar
Boeing developed a sophisticated
fuel temperature prediction model for airline use in dispatch planning.
We've also partnered with numerous international airlines, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration, and the Russian State Civil Aviation
Authority to document the aviation infrastructure in the northern
and eastern reaches of the Russian Federation. And, to further enhance
operational capabilities, Boeing has launched an initiative to develop
advanced approach procedures at potential emergency airports along
the polar routes. All these technical developments are featured
in a comprehensive polar-routes article
in this issue of Aero.
The opening of the new
cross-polar routes presents tremendous opportunities for air travelers
and airlines alike, especially when it comes to giving airlines
a competitive advantage. Boeing is proud to have played a part in
the building momentum, including recently sponsoring an open conference
in Thailand on the practical aspects of polar operations. We remain
committed to continuing to help airlines start and expand successful
operations on these routes.