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Air India kept flying Dreamliners despite grounding order

Discussion in 'World Economy' started by Picdelamirand-oil, Feb 5, 2013.

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  1. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    India's national carrier Air India flew two Dreamliner aircraft without passengers even after US regulators grounded the global fleet last month due to technical problems, an official said on Monday.

    The Boeing aircraft owned by Air India were allowed to fly from New Delhi to Mumbai for maintenance reasons, said Arun Mishra, director general of India's civil aviation regulator.

    "They did not carry any passengers, just two pilots were allowed inside each aircraft and we only gave them the permission to fly because the company was paying very high parking charges at the Delhi airport," said Mishra, declining to say when the flights were made.

    Air India did not respond to calls.

    Indian regulators had grounded Air India's six Dreamliner jets on January 17 in line with the US Federal Aviation Administration's advisory to cease flying the aircraft.

    Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had demanded that US giant Boeing compensate the ailing Air India after the grounding order.

    Air India and Boeing had earlier concluded negotiations for an undisclosed sum in compensation over a four-year delay in delivery of the Dreamliner to India because of production problems at the company.

    Indian officials had said they were seeking up to $1 billion in compensation for the delays but neither side has disclosed whether the money has been paid.

    Air India bought 27 Dreamliners as part of a 2005 multi-billion-dollar deal. It received the first plane last September and now has six, with the remaining 21 due to arrive by 2016.

    Boeing's troubled next-generation model has suffered a series of glitches, although Boeing insists the plane is safe.

    World regulators grounded all 50 operating Dreamliners after a fire aboard a parked Japan Airlines 787 on January 7 and a smoking battery that forced the emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways 787 on January 16.

    Investigations continue into what caused the potentially catastrophic battery meltdown.

    [​IMG]


    Read more: Air India kept flying Dreamliners despite grounding order
     
  2. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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  3. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    US: 787 battery approval should be reconsidered | www.kirotv.com

    The U.S. government should reassess its safety approval of the Boeing 787's lithium ion batteries, America's top accident investigator said, casting doubt on whether the airliner's troubles can be remedied quickly.

    Switching to a different type of battery would add weight to the plane — and fuel efficiency is one of the 787's main selling points.

    Boeing received permission Thursday to conduct test flights under limited circumstances with special safeguards — a critical step toward resolving the plane's troubles. The airliners have been grounded for the past three weeks. Boeing needs to be able to test the batteries under flight conditions before a solution can be approved.

    The flights will be conducted over unpopulated areas, and extensive pre-flight testing and inspections and in-flight monitoring are required, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating last month's battery fire in a Japan Airlines 787 "Dreamliner" while it was parked in Boston. The results so far contradict some of the assumptions that were made about the battery's safety at the time the system won government approval, said the board's chairwoman, Deborah Hersman.

    The NTSB investigation shows the fire started with multiple short-circuits in one of the battery's eight cells, she said. That created an uncontrolled chemical reaction known as "thermal runaway," which is characterized by progressively hotter temperatures. That spread the short-circuiting to the rest of the cells and caused the fire, she said.

    The findings are at odds with what Boeing told the FAA when that agency was working to certify the company's newest and most technologically advanced plane for flight, Hersman said. Boeing said its testing showed that even when trying to induce short-circuiting, the condition and any fire were contained within a single cell, preventing thermal runaway and fire from spreading, she told reporters at a news conference.

    Boeing's testing also showed the batteries were likely to cause smoke in only 1 in 10 million flight hours, she said. But the Boston fire was followed nine days later by a smoking battery in an All Nippon Airways plane that made an emergency landing in Japan. The 787 fleet has recorded less than 100,000 flight hours, Hersman noted.

    The plane that caught fire in Boston was delivered to Japan Airlines less than three weeks before the fire and had recorded only 169 flight hours over 22 flights.

    "There have now been two battery events resulting in smoke less than two weeks apart on two different aircraft," Hersman said. "This investigation has demonstrated that a short circuit in a single cell can propagate to adjacent cells and result in smoke and fire. The assumptions used to certify the battery must be reconsidered."

    All 787s have been grounded since Jan. 16. With no end in sight, the halt has become a nightmare for Boeing, which has about 800 orders for the craft from airlines around the world. The company's customers were already frustrated that the 787 was more than three years late when the first one was delivered toward the end of 2011.

    Boeing loses money on each 787 it delivers, and the cash burn grows with each missed delivery, analysts have said.

    Investigators are still trying to determine why the first battery cell short-circuited, but the board's findings appear to raise doubts about the thoroughness of FAA's safety certification of the 787's batteries and whether Boeing can remedy the problems with the addition of a few quick safeguards. The FAA typically delegates testing of new aircraft designs to the manufacturer, while overseeing that the tests meet the agency's requirements. The agency also relies to some degree on the expertise of the manufacturer's engineers, especially in the case of a cutting-edge plane like the 787.

    Following the fire at Boston's Logan International Airport, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta ordered a review of the 787's design, certification, manufacture and assembly. That review is still under way.

    "We must finish this work before reaching conclusions about what changes or improvements the FAA should make going forward," LaHood and Huerta said in a joint statement Thursday. "The leading experts in this field are working to understand what happened and how we can safely get these aircraft back into service."

    But John Goglia, a former NTSB board member and aviation safety expert, said NTSB's findings mean the government will likely require Boeing to re-certify the batteries.

    "Certifications aren't exactly painless and quick," he said. "It could be a big, drawn-out thing."

    The significance of the NTSB's findings "is if this can happen — and the safety analysis assumed that it would not happen — then the safety analysis is no longer valid," said Jon Hansman, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor and a member of the FAA's Research and Development Advisory Committee.

    Battery experts said Boeing could try to build more safeguards into the battery by using a greater number of smaller cells and putting more insulation between them. Or, they said, the aircraft maker could switch to a different type of lithium ion battery already approved for aviation. Some business jets use lithium ion batteries as their main batteries.

    Switching to another type of battery, such as lead-acid or nickel-cadmium battery, is another possibility, but that would involve changing the charging system as well, they said. The new batteries — and, presumably, a revised charging system — would need to be designed and tested by Boeing and approved by the FAA before they could be installed.

    Boeing issued a statement saying it is working to address questions about its testing and compliance with certifications requirements, "and we will not hesitate to make changes that lead to improved testing processes and products."

    The same day as the emergency landing in Japan, FAA officials ordered the only U.S. carrier with 787s — United Airlines, which has six of the planes — to ground them. Aviation authorities in other countries swiftly followed suit. In all, 50 planes operated by seven airlines in six countries are grounded.

    The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium batteries. Besides being lighter, the batteries recharge faster and can store more energy than other types of batteries of an equivalent size, and can be molded to fit into odd spaces on planes. The Airbus A350, expected to be ready next year, will also make extensive use of lithium ion batteries. Manufacturers are also looking to retrofit existing planes, replacing other types of batteries with lithium ion.

    But lithium batteries in general are more likely to short-circuit and start a fire than other batteries if they are damaged, if there is a manufacturing flaw or if they are exposed to excessive heat.

    In 2007, the FAA issued special conditions that Boeing had to meet in order to use lithium ion batteries in the 787, because at that time the agency's safety regulations didn't include standards for such battery systems.

    The 787 relies to a greater extent than any previous airliner on electrical systems, as opposed to hydraulic or mechanical ones. The batteries help run those electrical systems and also are used to start a power-generating engine in the rear of the aircraft.

    The batteries are made by GS Yuasa of Japan. Japanese aviation investigators probing the cause of the ANA battery failure have also found there was thermal runaway.

    Investigators have ruled out mechanical damage or external short-circuiting as possible causes of the initial, internal battery short-circuiting, Hersman said. Investigators and technical experts are now looking for evidence of flaws inside the batteries like pinches, wrinkles or folds, she said.

    "We are looking at a number of scenarios," Hersman said, including the state of charge of the battery, its manufacturing processes and the design of the batteries.

    "We haven't reached any conclusions at this point," she said. "We really have a lot of work to do."

    [​IMG]

    Freed contributed from Minneapolis.
     
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  4. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    We've gotta shut down this white elephant. Will do a lot of good for the tax payer and the aviation sector.
     
  5. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Marqueur

    Marqueur Peaceful Silence ELITE MEMBER

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    what's all the fuss about ... its not F35 people
     
  7. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Both F 35 and 787 were adept of concurrent engineering and produce serial planes before the end of tests....
     
  8. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    FAA faces obstacles in approving Boeing Dreamliner fix | Reuters

    Reuters) - Boeing said this week it can move "really fast" to get its 787 Dreamliner back into the skies once regulators approve a fix for burning batteries on board the plane.
    Regulators may not move so quickly.

    The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded Boeing's high-tech jet nearly seven weeks ago, faces unusually tough obstacles in approving it for flight - one of them brought on by the agency's own boss.

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood set an impossible standard early in the crisis by promising that the Dreamliner won't return to the skies until regulators are "1,000 percent sure" of its safety.

    Because no aircraft is 100 percent safe, "it is going to be a challenge for the FAA to dial back from some of the overheated rhetoric," said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group in Virginia.

    Boeing Co's flagship jetliner has been grounded for nearly seven weeks, costing an estimated $350 million, after lithium ion batteries overheated on two 787s in January.

    The National Transportation Safety Board this week is due to issue an update on its investigation into what caused the battery to overheat and smoke but has indicated it will take longer to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

    Boeing proposed a fix two weeks ago, but safety experts said approval from the FAA will be difficult as long as what caused the batteries to melt down remains a mystery.

    Even if the battery failures are fully explained, safety experts said, that does not make the Dreamliner "1,000 percent safe." Plane makers and the FAA always aim to reduce risk to levels that may approach zero but never reach it.

    "Nothing is 100 percent safe," said John Goglia, a former NTSB board member with 40 years of experience in the industry.

    In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board has questioned the process the FAA and Boeing used to approve the plane as safe just 18 months ago.

    "The FAA will need to find a way to communicate that they believe the level of risk has been reduced to a minute level that's acceptable," Aboulafia said.

    The FAA declined to answer detailed questions for this story and reiterated that it is analyzing Boeing's proposal closely. "The safety of the flying public is our top priority and we won't allow the 787 to return to commercial service until we're confident that any proposed solution has addressed the battery failure risks," agency representative Laura Brown said.

    Boeing also declined to comment. But at an investor conference on Monday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said the company is confident of its proposal. "We feel very good about the fix," he said. "We've covered the waterfront."

    COSTLY GROUNDING

    The FAA faces strong commercial pressure to return the plane to flight. Boeing is the nation's largest exporter, employing nearly 85,000 people in its airplane division. The company is still producing planes, but it cannot deliver them or receive payment until a worldwide grounding by regulators is lifted.

    [​IMG]

    Airlines are losing money by parking the planes and must lease jets or make other arrangements to fly passengers on flights scheduled months in advance.

    Goglia, the former NTSB board member, said regulators are "going to have to find a way to balance off their caution with the country's and Boeing's need to get this airplane back in the air."

    Having certified the high-tech plane as safe, the FAA is facing very close scrutiny of its approval procedures. The NTSB has questioned the process Boeing and the FAA used to certify the plane.

    Without these pressures the FAA might have approved Boeing's fix in a couple of weeks and had the jet flying in another month or two, said Hans Weber, a consultant who has served as an adviser to the FAA for more than 20 years.

    "Now, with the other considerations, I don't even want to venture a guess," said Weber, president of TECOP International, in San Diego.

    Aboulafia estimated that it would take at least four months for the 787 to get cleared to fly if the FAA approves flight tests soon, as Boeing requested. If flight testing takes longer, it could take six to nine months before the 787 is back in the sky.

    BOEING's SUPERBOX

    Some safety experts see the FAA eager to stand by Boeing and move quickly - even if politics slows it down some. The agency has a well-established process for vetting plane changes and has called in numerous experts to advise it on lithium-ion technology.

    Former Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo said the FAA is likely to decide that the fix is "an acceptable risk before the NTSB will."

    The aviation industry, for its part, has strong incentives to avoid cutting corners, since human life, company reputations and careers are at stake.

    "We put our own children on those planes," said Tom McCarty, president of SPEEA, the engineering union at Boeing.

    Boeing, meanwhile, has swiftly made design changes, which include adding ceramic insulation between the cells of the battery and a stronger stainless steel box with a venting tube to contain a fire and expel fumes from the aircraft.

    At the investor conference on Monday, Boeing's Conner said the company will double 787 production this year and deliver the same number of jets it planned before the battery crisis struck.

    Industry experts, however, say the inability to pinpoint the cause of the battery failures could make the FAA's job of certifying a solution more difficult, since it requires a fix that can contain the worst problem that can occur without damaging the aircraft.

    "People will attack this approach," said Weber. "They'll say, ‘How do you know that's the worst case?'"

    Weber speculated that the safety concerns may result in regulators restricting the 787's ability to make long flights over water, a standard known as ETOPS. Such a change would be a severe blow to Boeing and airlines that use the Dreamliner for long-haul direct flights with about 250 passengers, a highly lucrative market that the 787 can serve at 20 percent lower fuel cost than other planes.

    "If politically they feel they cannot move aggressively toward restoring three-hour ETOPS they may restrict it to one hour, so the aircraft can land if there is a fire," said Weber. "That destroys the business case for the 787."

    Boeing shares were up $1.49, or nearly 2 percent, at $78.58 in late afternoon trading on Tuesday.

    (Additional reporting by Mari Saito, James Topham and Tim Kelly in Tokyo, Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington, Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by Edward Tobin and Steve Orlofsky)
     
  9. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Dreamliner battery maker's shares plunge in Tokyo

    Shares in GS Yuasa, the Japanese battery supplier for Boeing's troubled Dreamliner, plunged Thursday after its power packs overheated or caught fire in Mitsubishi's electric and hybrid vehicles.

    The stock dropped 11.11 percent to 392 yen by the close in Tokyo after the automaker said late Wednesday that lithium-ion batteries made by a joint venture including GS Yuasa had suffered malfunctions in at least two instances.

    No one was injured in the incidents which involved Mitsubishi's i-MiEV model, the world's first mass-produced electric car, and its Outlander PHEV, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Neither of the cars involved had yet been shipped to customers.

    The automaker has asked 4,000 vehicle owners to avoid charging their cars pending an investigation into the overheating batteries, made by a venture including Mitsubishi Motors, Mitsubishi Corp. and GS Yuasa.

    GS Yuasa drew global attention over the worldwide grounding of Boeing's next generation aircraft in January after a battery on a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire and forced an ANA flight to make an emergency landing in a separate case.

    GS Yuasa has the contract for all Dreamliner batteries. Japanese authorities have said they had found no major problem on the company's production line making batteries for Boeing's planes.

    But the problems set off worldwide probes and led to the grounding of the next-generation aircraft.

    Earlier this week, Boeing said a test flight of its 787 plane went according to plan, in its latest step towards returning the Dreamliner to service.

    kh-pb/pdh

    Dreamliner battery maker's shares plunge in Tokyo
     
  10. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Boeing 787 faces new risk: limits on extended range: sources | Reuters

    (Reuters) - As Boeing works to regain permission for its 787 Dreamliner to resume flights, the company faces what could be a costly new challenge: a temporary ban on some of the long-distance, trans-ocean journeys that the jet was intended to fly.

    Aviation experts and government officials say the Federal Aviation Administration may shorten the permitted flying time of the 787 on certain routes when it approves a revamped battery system. The plane was grounded worldwide two months ago after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two separate aircraft.

    Losing extended operations, or ETOPS, would deal a blow to Boeing and its airline customers by limiting use of the fuel-saving jet, designed to lower costs on long-distance routes that don't require the capacity of the larger Boeing 777. Such a loss could even lead to cancellation of some routes.

    "If the FAA approves (only) over-land operations it would be a very damaging blow to the 787 program," said Scott Hamilton, an aviation analyst with Leeham Co in Seattle.

    [​IMG]

    "Depending on how long that restriction remains in place, it would completely undermine the business case for the airplane, which was to be able to do these long, thin intercontinental routes" over water, he said.

    Grounding the 787 already has cost Boeing an estimated $450 million in lost income and compensation payments to airlines. Further restrictions on the 787's range could send the airlines' claims - and Boeing's costs - higher.

    Until it was grounded on January 16, the 787 was permitted to fly routes that ranged as much as three hours away from an airport. Boeing has asked the FAA to extend that range to 5-1/2 hours. That change would enable airlines to fly many more routes across remote areas such as the North Pole.

    Now the jet faces the potential temporary loss of its ETOPS approval or a roll-back to two hours, according to government officials and aviation experts.

    "It is completely within expectations for FAA to limit ETOPS for the 787," one regulatory source in Japan told Reuters. He said that reducing the range to two hours would force Japanese airlines to fly more circuitous routes, burning up more fuel and cutting efficiency.

    A former senior U.S. government official said there was "a distinct possibility" that Boeing could win the battle over FAA flight certification for the battery only to lose permission for extended operations - at least temporarily.

    An FAA spokesperson said it was too early to discuss ETOPS approval since Boeing's battery fix was still being tested.

    "It's really premature to talk about what ETOPS certification we would give them right now," said the spokesperson. "We'll be in a better position to answer questions like that after we get through all this battery testing."

    Boeing referred questions to the FAA. During a recent news conference in Japan, Boeing executives said there had not been any conversations with regulators about extended range operations. They said the proposed certification plan did not foresee further limitations once the plane was allowed to resume flight operations.

    The issue is heating up as Boeing nears the end of testing the new battery system, designed to prevent the meltdowns that occurred in January. Boeing executives say the FAA could approve the new battery system within weeks. The first flight test of the system took place Monday, and a second, final test flight is expected in coming days, Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said.

    Analysts and industry executives say any decision to limit the flying time of the new aircraft would have serious consequences.

    The change would not rule out all international routes, but some specific routes, such as Japan Airlines Co's (9201.T) Tokyo-to-Boston flight, might have to be canceled, said the Japanese regulatory source.

    The 787's biggest customers so far include All Nippon Airways (9202.T) and Japan Airlines (9201.T), which fly extended routes to the United States and Europe, and Qatar Airways. In the U.S., United Airlines (UAL.N) is the only carrier to have taken delivery of 787s. The airlines declined requests for comment on how loss of ETOPS could affect operations.

    A step-by-step return to full, extended flight would give regulators more time to study the effectiveness of Boeing's battery fix, and could help the Obama administration prove that it was making good on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's promise to ensure the plane was "1,000-percent" safe, some experts said.

    It would also address concerns voiced by Japanese aviation regulatory authorities in recent weeks.

    Nor is it without precedent. Until the late 1980s, the FAA required airlines to fly a certain number of hours over land before it approved extended-range operations over water or remote areas. It started granting permission for those flights in tandem with flight certification when engine safety improved.

    But the highly electrical nature of the 787 has raised new questions, said another former U.S. official, noting that the importance of the lithium-ion batteries for the plane's operation made it a bigger risk factor than past batteries.

    "In the past, if you lost a battery, or a battery malfunctioned, it wasn't that big of a deal," said that former U.S. official.

    "But if Boeing's battery is needed to start the engine - and that battery is susceptible to fire - isn't that a turn back condition? Isn't that something you have to go land at an airport to address? That's the question."

    (Additional reporting by Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Tim Hepher in Paris.; Editing by Alwyn Scott and Steve Orlofsky)
     
  11. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Air India?s Dreamliners to return to skies in May - Livemint

    Mumbai: Air India Ltd is preparing to fly its six grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in May after airplane maker Boeing Co. conducted the final certification flight for a new battery system on 5 April, clearing a test that was set for it by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    India’s national airline had initially expected to fly the Dreamliner aircraft in April, but it now expects to do so in May, two senior Air India officials said on Monday.

    In January, Air India had grounded the six Dreamliners after being ordered to do so by the country’s civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Regulators and airlines in Europe and South America grounded the plane, which was first pulled from schedules in Japan in mid-January following an emergency landing after instruments indicated a battery error.

    On 5 April, Boeing said the crew of the company’s demonstration flight reported that the flight was uneventful. Boeing will now file necessary documents with FAA to obtain clearances to restart 787 flights. The fuel-efficient 787, which uses weight-saving composite materials, is a critical element of debt-laden Air India’s turnaround plan.

    Air India officials said the return of the Dreamliners will help the airline during the peak May-to-August season.

    “Air India has plans to increase the capacity by 25% in the current financial year mainly through induction of eight more Dreamliners. Return of Dreamliners in May will positively help Air India to boost sales, cut down fuel cost,” said one of the Air India officials, requesting anonymity.

    Dreamliners would be re-introduced in sectors, including Delhi-Dubai, Delhi-Frankfurt, Delhi-Paris and will induct on Delhi-London route, the official said.

    Air India expects to post an operating profit of Rs.1,040 crore in the current fiscal. Operating revenue is estimated to increase by Rs.3,235 crore and seat occupancy factor by 24%.

    Total revenue for this fiscal year has been budgeted at Rs.19,393 crore— an increase of 20% over the previous year.

    [​IMG]

    “All these estimates are made assuming that Dreamliners would be joining the fleet by May,” the official said.

    The state-owned airline is expected to report a loss of Rs.5,198 crore in the year ended 31 March compared with a loss of Rs.7,559 crore in the previous year. The loss in the current fiscal is expected to narrow to Rs.3,900 crore.

    In mid-March, union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said that despite the grounding of Dreamliners, Air India would be able to post a positive Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of Rs.20 crore in the year ended 31 March.

    Singh had earlier said that Air India was hoping to get Dreamliners back in April.

    In April, the government approved a Rs.30,000 crore package to bail out the money-losing airline. This includes an upfront equity infusion of Rs.6,750 crore and assured equity support of Rs.23,481 crore till 2020-21. The airline has Rs.47,226 crore debt as on 31 July.

    First Published: Mon, Apr 08 2013. 11 46 AM IST
     
  12. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    The first A350 completed and fully painted made ​​an initial appearance Monday in Toulouse, on the site of the assembly plant of Airbus.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. MAFIAN GOD

    MAFIAN GOD Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Is this Airbus' counter for dreamliner ?
    This air craft is also beautiful. :victory:
     
  14. Foxtrot

    Foxtrot Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Looks absolutely gr8......
     
  15. smestarz

    smestarz Lt. Colonel REGISTERED

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    Air India has no actual concern for Passengers,
    Abhi tak to air india sirf bhagwan ke bharose pe chal raha hai, .. so they must have thought why to change,,
     
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