Work at the Chennai airport came to a standstill for some time this morning as the first Air India Dreamliner aircraft touched down.

Airline staff working on getting other aircraft ready for departure started clicking pictures of the Dreamliner with their phone cameras, as the plane carrying passengers from Delhi landed.

As the aircraft taxied to its parking stand, it was welcomed by a traditional water cannon salute. Soon after the engines were switched off, a traditional puja followed.

In Delhi, from where the first flight of the Boeing 787 took off for Chennai, the airline staff gave the passengers roses and special cards which said “Congratulations! You are among the very first passengers to board the Dreamliner in India. Be Proud.”

Soon after take-off, as vegetarian passengers tucked into a breakfast of spinach upma, milagaipodi idli and pesarattu or palak paneer burji with sabzi parantha, the flight captain left the deck and began describing the finer points of the aircraft.

“The aircraft brings many advantages for the airline, passengers and the environment. The passengers get to fly a much quieter aircraft, as the aircraft consumes almost 20 per cent less fuel than an equivalent aircraft and the cost of operations is less for the management.

“Besides, it has lower carbon emission and is less noisy, which is a big issue at some airports in Europe, North America and, now, even India,” Atul Soman, the aircraft’s commander, said.

The excitement on board was palpable.

Soman chatted with every passenger, inquiring about his or her well-being and asking if they wanted any more details about the aircraft.

Some of the 787’s special features are that passengers in the business class can enjoy a lie-flat bed experience. All passengers can also experience mood lighting, lower cabin pressure, which makes long-haul flights more comfortable, and electronically-operated windows that are 60 per cent larger than conventional windows.

(This article was published on September 19, 2012)
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