New Delhi: Flag carrier Air India Thursday took charge of the first of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at Charleston in South Carolina in the US, ahead of flying it down to the Indian capital.
"Our technical team in the US has taken the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner aircraft. We expect the aircraft to land in India by Saturday evening," a senior Air India official told IANS here.
According to Air India's Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan 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 plane has the range and capability to allow Air India to deploy it on many routes including the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Key airline officials like general manager for the wide-bodied aircraft and director of operations took the delivery and will stay in the US to finish the final modalities of sale and lease before flying the aircraft home.
The development comes after an Aug 3 decision of the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) which approved the proposal of the civil aviation ministry allowing the flag carrier to take delivery of 27 Boeing 787 aircraft after signing the delay-compensation settlement agreement.
Air India will be the fifth global airline after All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to receive the fuel-efficient and eco-friendly 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 to the end of the month 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.
The aircraft comes with a slew of advanced technologies which reduce noise and emission during all phases of flight, including take-off, cruise and landing.
The Air India's 787 will also be equipped with best-in class seats for its 256 passengers from Contour Aerospace and Weber Aircraft.
While Contour Aerospace will equip the 18 business class seats, Weber would provide the other 238 seats.
The official said it would have state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system from the aviation electronics major Thales.