New Delhi: Amidst much fanfare, Air India’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrived in the national capital Saturday, ending a four-year wait.
Air India is the fifth airline to receive the fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft. Among its other operators are All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.
“The first aircraft reached Delhi in the evening and was inspected by the airlines’ chairman. Flight schedule and crew training of the aircraft will be decided soon,” a senior Air India official told IANS.
According to the official, 28 crew members of Air India accompanied the aircraft which landed at 4.55 p.m. after which some religious rituals were performed for inducting the aircraft into the airline’s fleet.
The airline’s technical team was in the US to take the delivery of the Dreamliner at Charleston in South Carolina Thursday.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan said the new aircraft will allow the airline to operate on new routes and enable it to save fuel cost.
“The 787 aircraft will allow Air India to open new routes in a dynamic marketplace and provide the best in-flight experience for our passengers,” Nandan said.
The 787 has the range and capability to allow Air India to deploy it on many routes including the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The aircraft arrived after the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) approved the the delay-compensation settlement agreement with Boeing, allowing the civil aviation ministry and the flag carrier to take delivery of 27 Boeing 787 aircraft.
Air India had booked 27 Boeing 787s in 2006 in a mega deal. The carrier was to get the delivery in May 2008, but that got pushed forward for a variety of reasons, including manufacturing delays.
The aircraft were scheduled to be delivered from September 2008 to October 2011. But due to certain design and production issues, these were delayed and rescheduled to be delivered between June 2012 and March 2016.
The airline plans to deploy the 787 Dreamliner aircraft on domestic routes to save on fuel, train the crew and add flexibility in its winter schedule by flying out to select domestic and overseas destinations.
“A key feature of the aircraft is fuel saving. It consumes 20 percent less fuel than other aircraft. The proposal to deploy the aircraft on domestic routes will help us save on high jet fuel cost,” the official said.
The Boeing 787 aircraft is made of composite materials. Its newly-developed engine and advanced flight technologies make it highly fuel-efficient. The plane can fly up to 16,000 km non-stop.