Aircraft being tested for safety after notice from US authority

The six Boeing 787 aircraft in the Air India fleet will remain grounded till February 17. This means that the newest aircraft in the airline fleet will remain grounded for a month, as it was on January 17 that Air India had grounded its Boeing 787 fleet. Initially, Air India expected the 787 aircraft to be grounded for three to five days.

This will not be good news for Air India. The airline was looking at the induction and use of the Boeing 787 aircraft to turn around its financial fortunes. The aircraft was generating revenues of Rs 2 crore a day when it was in service. The airline grounded the aircraft after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation asked Air India to stop using the Boeing 787 till a problem with a battery on board had been sorted out.

fire risk

The Directorate General took the decision to ground the aircraft after US watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pointed out problems with the battery. In a communication, the FAA said that as a result of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident earlier in Japan, it was issuing an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and would require operators to temporarily cease aircraft operations. “Before further flights, operators of US-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe,” the communication adds.

The batteries are being tested to find out what exactly caused the incident, after which the FAA issued an AD leading to all airlines globally using this aircraft to ground the Boeing 787. Currently, seven global carriers — All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, United, Air India, Ethiopian, Qatar Airways and Lan Chile — have the Boeing 787 in their fleet.

Air India has ordered 27 Boeing 787. The six aircraft in the fleet were used to operate flights from Delhi to Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata apart from flights to Dubai, Frankfurt and Paris. The airline is now using other aircraft in its fleet to operate these flights.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 26, 2013)
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