Air India gets its first Dreamliner
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The advanced Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Air India touched down at Delhi's IGI Airport today, ending an over four-year wait of the struggling national carrier to add this next-generation airplane in its fleet.
The plane, painted in red and yellow livery of Air India, landed at the main runway of the airport at 1705 hours and was given water-cannon salute as it taxied to the bay.
After parking, a small religious ceremony was conducted to welcome the aircraft in the presence of Air India CMD Rohit Nandan and senior Civil Aviation Ministry and airline officials.
The Dreamliner took 15 hours of flying time from Boeing's Charleston factory in South Carolina in the US to Delhi, plus a 90-minute stopover at Frankfurt for re-fuelling, the commander of the aircraft, Capt A S Soman said.
"It was a very smooth flight. It has a very quite cabin and there is much less fatigue (for the pilot). It is both a pilot and passenger friendly airplane," he said.
Air India, which ordered 27 Dreamliners six years ago, would get two more of these planes in the next few weeks. A total of eight of them would arrive by March next year, including five by December, while the national carrier would get six more in the 2012-13 fiscal.
The aircraft would ultimately become the mainstay of Air India's global operations and is key to its turnaround plan.
For Air India, the plane has been configured to have 256 seats -- 18 full-flat Business Class seats and 238 in Economy. It features a host of sophisticated technologies, including mood-lighting inside the cabin and large LCD display screens for in-flight entertainment.
For the next two months, Air India would use the B-787s to operate on select sectors like Delhi-Dubai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Bangalore and Delhi-Amritsar for the crew to practice more landings and take-offs. So far, a total 65 pilots have been trained to fly this plane.
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