Air India hopes to induct the first of its new Boeing-787 Dreamliners by this month-end as the aircraft has received regulatory clearances to fly to India.
"The first of our 787s have received mandatory flying clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration. A team of pilots, engineers and other crew members will leave for the US soon," an Air India official privy to the development told IANS.
"We expect the aircraft to be in India in around a week's time."
According to the official, some top officials like general manager for wide-bodied aircraft and director of operation are already in the US to finish the final modalities of sale and lease back of the aircraft.
Air India hopes to save on maintenance and other costs by selling and leasing back the aircraft from international lenders.
On Aug 3, 2012, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal of the civil aviation ministry allowing the flag carrier to take delivery of 27 B-787 aircraft after signing the delay-compensation settlement agreement.
Air India will be the third 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 for 68 aircraft from Boeing. Air India 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 are now scheduled 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 which is on domestic routes," 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.
AI'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.
On the in-flight-entertainment system, the official said it would be state-of-the-art I8000 from the aviation electronics major Thales.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted by email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)