With the recent announcement made in Australia that Qantas would commence nonstop flights to London from Perth in March 2018 using a Boeing 787-9, its amazing to look back in wonder at just how far the aviation industry has come.
Qantas flew its first 'Kangaroo Route' from Sydney to London in December 1947 in a Lockheed Constellation. The trip took a total of four days. In just a few years time the flying kangaroo hopes to travel the same route in just over 20 hours. Currently Qantas flies from Dallas to Sydney nonstop with both flights taking approximately 16 hours.
So it got me wondering about where aircraft can't fly and why. At the time of writing the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) listed 6 countries including Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Iraq which are completely off limits. It's not so long ago now that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was tragically shot down in July 2014.
Tibet is an autonomous region which sits in western China, sharing the border of Mount Everest with Nepal and is one place that remains excluded from the the flight path of most any commercial airline pilot. Known as the 'Roof of the World' it's said the towering Himalayan peaks are the reason why.
The average elevation of the region is approximately 16,000ft above sea level consequently it's said that in the case of an aircraft emergency, the oxygen levels at this elevation would be negligible - as the average human can only breathe normally at a distance of less than 12,000 ft.
Additionally, there is no concept of any radar services in the region that would be of benefit to commercial pilots and although its known that some Russian and Chinese airlines do fly over the area occasionally, the number of flights in general is very low. Interestingly Heathrow, one of the largest airports in the world lists only a total of four routes that fly over Tibet.
Another compounding reason for the lack of direct flights is due to the fact that polar routes from North America to Asia do not fly direct to India as such a distance is well beyond the range of most commercial aircraft today.
Those routes that fly Europe to South East Asia will know that travel is routed via Dubai, as this is the most financially viable route for airlines to take.