After being grounded for over four months, the much talked about Dreamliner series of Boeing 787 are ready for flying again. The plane had been taken off air after safety fears arose globally owing to a series of mishaps on airports across the world. The Air India management quite in anticipation had grounded the Dreamliner Boeings much like many other countries which operate this aircraft.
A detailed investigation was carried out and some changes were carried out in the battery system of Boeing 787. The ban on flying of Dreamliner was lifted by Director General of Civil Aviation, Arun Mishra after a joint team of Air India and Boeing officials who carried out the repair work briefed him with the details.
Test flights would be carried for a period varying between one week to ten days and only then commercial flights through the Dreamliner will be allowed, as per Arun Mishra. Air India has six Dreamliner series of aircrafts and the Boeing engineers have carried the repair in the first of the lot and are working on the second. Training flights on the modified Dreamliner are set to begin on 8th May and will continue for another 10 days.
Arun Mishra maintained that as the pilots had not flown these planes since its grounding in January, it is vital that they get acquainted with the changes to give the passengers a sense of satisfaction that they are in safe hands.
Interestingly, it is the same series of aircrafts for which the pilot association of Air India had gone on strike. Senior pilots at time of induction of Dreamliner had insisted on flying these. When the issue got solved amicably, the problem in battery system arose and the entire fleet had to be grounded.
It would be a matter of concern to see if the same pilot lobby will show much willingness to fly the Dreamliner now as concerns will remain in minds of pilots, even after the requisite changes have been made.
All the modified Dreamliner series of aircrafts will be operational by month end and the management seems quite upbeat about the same. It is worth mentioning here that even as this problem arose, the Air India management had kept one of the Dreamliners on standby. Of the other five that were in use two were flying on international routes namely Delhi- Paris and Delhi- Frankfurt. The other three were on domestic routes.
The grounding of Dreamliner series of aircrafts had a considerable impact on fortunes of Air India though in terms of occupancy, it accounted for 4 percent of the share only. Air India which was already under pressure owing to mounting expenses had to suffer a lot financially owing to grounding of the entire fleet of Dreamliners.
Boeing is reportedly compensating Air India for the losses it had suffered during the last four months due to non operating of these aircrafts. It remains to be seen though as to if Air India will be able to instil confidence among the passengers also who would be sceptical on flying in the Dreamliners.