Long before the jet age, commercial aircrafts were flying through the Arctic Circle. After the successful voyages of Richard Byrd and Umberto Nobile in 1926, the feasibility of polar aviation was demonstrated in actual practice. Nowadays, commercial traffic, connecting Europe, North America and Asia through the north polar routes is a routine.
Cross-polar air corridors bring new opportunities for both commercial and private travel markets. Transpolar aviation reduces the burn of fuel by making the travel time shorter what lowers the cost of trans-polar air operations.
Flying direct paths between many of North American and Asian cities also decreases the environmental threats of greenhouse gases emissions, which are now one of the major concerns of the Arctic States.
Polar air corridors refer to aircrafts routes lying across the uninhabited polar ice cap region, 78 degrees north from the northern latitude what includes areas of northern part of Alaska and most of Siberia. Term of Polar Route was originally adopted in the middle of 20th century and applied to the great circle between Europe and west coast of North America.
The Polar Route formally opened after the Cold War for commercial flights between Europe and Asian Far East as before that period civilian flights were not able to cross the air space over the Soviet Union and China as those countries were much concerned about the possibility of trans-polar attack.
Nowadays commercial traffic through the northern hemisphere is operated by various aircrafts as Boeings 747 - 400 and Airbuses A340, with ranges of around 7000 nautical miles. In 2001, Arctic States adopted policy letter, Guidance for Polar Operations, which outlined a number of specific requirements for polar flight operations, including cold weather conditions, special communication capabilities, fuel freeze strategy, evacuation and recovery plans for abandoned passengers and special monitoring requirements as the aircrafts operating in the Arctic rely almost exclusively on satellite communications, where a pilot´s signal is beamed into the space and bounced back to a ground control station.
Arctic operating planes handle the distances between Europe, Asia and North America and are managed by various airlines. The International Air Transportation Association proposed the establishment of the Pacific Project which would meet the increasing air traffic demand between Asia and North America which is very likely to double by the end of 2025. Opening of new and improving strategies on already used air traffic routes offer possibilities to reach various locations in the northern hemisphere in easy and cost efficient way.
Source: International Civil Aviation Organization