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No plans to ground Dreamliners, says Air India

Hyderabad: Air India Wednesday made it clear it has no plans to ground the Dreamliner 787 as there were no safety issues in incidents involving the plane.

The state-owned carrier, however, is analysing the fuel efficiency of Dreamliners before taking a decision on the compensation package to be sought from the American company.

On a day when Boeing delivered its 13th Dreamliner, Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan told reporters here that both Boeing and the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) assured that there were no safety issues.

“Air India has got no such plans as of today to ground Dreamliners. It is for regulators to take a view on the matter but we are quite satisfied with the quality of service we have received from this plane and its economics,” he said.

“The incidents which we experienced in nearly one and half years are not unusual in a new fleet. Everybody is trying to adjust to new machines introduced in our fleet. Both Boeing as well as DGCA have looked into every incident and assured that no safety aspects were involved in any of the incidents. To that extent, we are reassured,” he told a news conference at India Aviation 2014, which began here Wednesday.

He said the incidents could be related to software or some small technical matter and Air India engineers were competent to handle it.

“Air India had discussions with the Boeing team and our engineers are in touch with them,” he said.

“Boeing at the moment is upgrading software of the planes that we have received till December. Since then, most of the fleet has been upgraded and the number of incidents are gradually coming down,” Nandan said.

On issues relating to fuel efficiency, Nandan said when they received the first of the planes, they knew the machines were heavier than what they promised to be.

A committee comprising people from the government, the airline and Boeing was constituted and will collect data of the past 18 months and analyse it to see what was the deviation from the originally promised fuel efficiency.

“That committee is working and the 18 months will be over in November. We shall decide the compensation package after that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Boeing said that while there were some issues with Dreamliners in India, it was a very safe plane.

The firm, which is displaying a Dreamliner at India Aviation 2014, confirmed that the 13th of the 27 aircraft ordered by Air India landed in Delhi Wednesday.

Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told reporters on the sidelines of the show that Dreamliner was an important aspect of Air India’s turnaround plan.

“Air India flies over 700 flights a month. You hear about one or two of them but don’t hear about 698,” he said.

“Air India losses are getting smaller and we hope that by the time they get all these airplanes, they will be making profits and that will be our contribution to India’s civil and most prominent and oldest airline,” he added.