Air India to resume Dreamliner operations

All six Dreamliners to start flying by month end.

By R Chandrasekaran

CHENNAI: India’s leading and government controlled airliner Air India will restart its Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jets from May 15, nearly after four months after the aircraft was grounded on safety concerns.

India’s civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told the press that Dreamliner will resume in the domestic circuit next Wednesday, while international flights will commence from May 22nd.

The minister also indicated that all six Dreamliners purchased from Boeing would be put into operation by the end of this month. Of these, three were earlier used for domestic circuits, while two were used for international routes to Paris and Frankfurt. The sixth one was kept as a standby.

Since there were only two Dreamliners used for international routes, Air India services’ were not affected by its decision to ground Dreamliner. The airliner had indicated in January that it would press Boeing 777 into service for the Paris and Frankfurt routes. The domestic routes too were not affected.

The airline has ordered 21 more and hope to add 8 more Dreamliners to its fleet by December this year, Singh disclosed.

In January, Air India joined other global bigwigs in grounding six of its Boeing Dreamliner following the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) directive to ground it temporarily, citing safety concerns, after incidents of overheating in the batteries offering auxiliary power came to the fore. The company has reportedly addressed the issue and came up with new battery packs to avoid recurrence of earlier incidents.

A few days back, Air India commenced test flights of Dreamliner with new battery packs fitted, to Delhi from Mumbai via Ahmedabad. More test flights between Delhi and Amritsar were conducted with a view to help the pilots and cabin crew get more experience of landings and take-offs.

These test flights and take-offs and landings were over and above the Director General of Civil Aviation’s regulatory requirements. Globally too, at least eight airlines have conducted test flights of Boeing Dreamliner with new battery packs that were approved by the FAA.

To contact the author, e-mail: rchandrasekaran@americanbazaaronline.com

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