Sunday, March 27, 2016

Technical problems and delivery issues: Air India’s Dreamliner woes continue

Air India’s Dreamliner woes continued after a technical problem forcing the carrier to ground one of its planes in Paris on Friday even as the US aircraft maker is planning to advance deliveries of the remaining six aircraft by a few months.

The grounding of another Boeing 787-800 comes close on the heels of Air India’s Kolkata-Delhi fight hitting the same problem last week, forcing a midnight replacement.

Significantly, AI’s engineering union had urged the management last year to defer deliveries of the remaining aircraft till Boeing does not address the technical issues and ‘pay’ compensation for the adverse impact on the carrier’s on-time performance due to grounding of the planes.

Air India has already inducted 21 such planes in its fleet and six more are to be delivered to it by August 2018.

“The Boeing Dreamliner, which was to operate Air India Paris-Delhi flight, is grounded in Paris due to a technical issue. The airline has rushed its team of engineers to fix the problem,” a source said.

Alleging that the Boeing has “perpetually failed” to address the technical issues with Dreamliners, which result in frequent grounding of these planes with Air India, the source said, “Air India needs to talk tough with the US aircraft maker on these problems as the airline is not only losing revenue due to grounding of the planes, but it is also impacting its on-time performance.”

At the time of Kolkata incident, Air India had admitted that it was facing teething technical glitches in Dreamliner aircraft.

Air India, which was one of the first customers of the Dreamliner planes, currently has 21 Boeing 787-800s in the fleet, of the 27 planes it had ordered with the US aircraft maker in 2005.

“The association requests the management to put on hold further deliveries of B787s till all technical problems are resolved to the satisfaction of Air India. 

Boeing should also extend the warranty of aircraft from four years currently to minimum 6 years or till the utilisation of B787s is improved to considerably,” Air India Aircraft Engineering Association had said in a communication to the management last year.

The association had also urged that the manpower for frequent unscheduled snags be compensated, including damages towards hampering the airline’s on-time performance.

“Besides, Boeing should also be asked to keep float (inventory) of items which are repeatedly failing,” it said.

As a part of its fleet expansion plans, Air India had in January, 2006, placed orders with Boeing Company for 68 aircraft, including 27 Dreamliners and 41 B-777s and B-737- 800s.

A senior airline official, however, said that most of the issues with the planemaker had been sorted out and the average utilisation period of the aircraft has also increased considerably in the last six months.

“The issues with Boeing have been sorted out. The problem issues relating to parts and components supply have also been resolved. We have signed a 10-year Rotational Exchange Programme with Boeing, under which the aircraft maker will make us available any part/component for Dreamliner within 24 hours of the requirement.

“The tie-up is effective from June and this would reduce the grounding period of the aircraft,” the official said.

Meanwhile, according to the official, Boeing is in talks with Air India to revise the delivery schedule for the remaining planes.

“As of now these planes are to be delivered to the carrier by August 2018 with two such planes expected to join the fleet in November-December this year. However, Boeing wants to deliver all the six planes by March 2018,” the source said.

Original article can be found here: http://www.hindustantimes.com

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