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Air India gears up to receive Dreamliner

Press Trust Of India  |  New Delhi 

With Air India’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner landing here on Wednesday, a delivery schedule for the aircraft would be firmed up soon as two more are ready for delivery, official sources said.

The last hurdle in taking delivery of this plane has been cleared with the law and justice ministry giving nod to the compensation settlement agreement which Air India would sign with the US plane-maker for the four-year delay in its deliveries.

An Air India team has reached Boeing's South Carolina facility to go through the formalities as soon as they get a nod from the airline's brass.

A definitive delivery schedule would follow soon and it could involve the first few of these long-haul planes being delivered in 7-10 day intervals, the sources suggested.

With the first aircraft coming in now, Air India plans to take delivery of all 27 of them by 2016. The Dreamliners' delivery was to take place in 2008 and the rest by October 2011. But their delivery was delayed due to various factors, including spare supply delays and labour trouble.

The induction of the plane would enable Air India mount several new international flights, including those it plans to launch for Melbourne and Sydney this winter. The twin-aisle aircraft can typically carry between 210 and 250 passengers on routes of 14,200 km to 15,200 km distance, while using 20 per cent less fuel than airplanes of similar size. This is because of its lighter weight as it is made out of carbon composite material, instead of aluminium.

However, the aircraft would be flown on busy domestic routes for about two months for the already-trained pilots to practice more on take-offs and landings, before it is put into service on long-haul international routes, the sources said.

Air India was the second airline to place orders for 27 B-787s but two Japanese carriers, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and Ethiopian Airlines have already started flying them.

Boeing's Dreamliner programme recently suffered a setback with loss-making Australian carrier Qantas cancelling orders for 35 of them. The US aircraft manufacturer has invested an estimated $14 billion or more to develop the wide-body jet.

Last minute hitch in Air India taking delivery of the aircraft was also caused by an incident in which debris fell off a Dreamliner's engine during a pre-flight test at the Charleston Airport in South Carolina. This particular plane was made for Air India.

The US National Transport Safety Board probed the incident, following which India's Director General of Civil Aviation sought a report from its American counterpart — Federal Aviation Authority — on it. The safety clearance has now been given by both US and Indian authorities.

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First Published: Mon, August 27 2012. 00:53 IST