On Saturday, Air India became the fourth global airline to induct the world’s newest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 787, known as the Dreamliner.

The first of the 27 Boeing 787s that the airline is to induct, touched down at the IGI airport here around 5 p.m. after an over eight-hour flight from Frankfurt. On touch-down, the aircraft was given a traditional water cannon salute with fire tenders standing on each side of the runway spraying the aircraft as it taxied down the runway.

Soon after landing, the aircraft taxied to remote bay 91 and once the engines were switched off, a small puja was done, attended by Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan, and other airline staffers.

Air India should have been the second global airline after Japanese carrier ANA to take delivery of the aircraft. However, for a variety of reasons, including the recent pilots’ agitation and the Government panel taking time to decide on the compensation that Air India should receive for the over four-year delay in delivery of the aircraft, the Dreamliner landed only on Saturday.

For at least one member of the crew, Captain Amitabh Singh, the touch-down of the 787 aircraft gave a sense of déjà-vu. Captain Singh was part of the operating crew that flew non-stop from Seattle to Delhi on the first Boeing 777 that the airline inducted in 2007.

The Boeing 787 has 256 seats, including 18 full flat-bed seats in business class and 238 seats in economy. The aircraft has a capacity to fly between 5,130 and 6,610 nautical miles.

Jet Airways is the only other Indian carrier to have ordered the aircraft.


(This article was published on September 8, 2012)
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