Air India Gets OK To Take First Dreamliner

 - August 13, 2012, 2:00 PM
Air India’s first Boeing 787 rolls out of Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina on April 27. It appears likely to arrive in Delhi this month after the Indian government approved compensation terms for late delivery. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing confirmed last week that the Indian government has approved terms reached between the manufacturer and Air India on compensation for delays associated with the 787 Dreamliner. “This is a key milestone for Air India,” a Boeing spokesman told AIN. “We’ll work with the customer to identify a delivery plan/schedule.”

Boeing celebrated the rollout of the first of 24 Air India 787s on order from its new plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, on April 27, then took the airplane on its maiden flight on May 23, ahead of a planned “mid-2012” first delivery. But bureaucratic obstacles in India–associated both with delivery delay compensation and penalties related to the airplanes’ overweight condition–have prevented Boeing from sending the first airplane to Delhi as scheduled.

Although Boeing won’t reveal delivery schedule plans, reports out of India indicate the first airplane will arrive this month. So far Japan’s All Nippon Airways has taken 11 and Japan Airlines another four; Ethiopian Airlines plans to participate in a first-delivery ceremony in Seattle tomorrow and ferry its first airplane to Addis Ababa on August 16.

Boeing received word of the delivery approval from Air India following a decision by the government to “delink” negotiations over penalties for the airplane’s failure to meet weight guarantees from those related to delay compensation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has turned its attention to a fan mid-shaft in its investigation into the July 28 contained failure of a General Electric GEnx engine during a ground test run of the second Air India 787 in Charleston, N.C. The Board confirmed that the part fractured at the forward end of the shaft, rear of the threads where assembly calls for installation of a retaining nut. The NTSB said it has begun several detailed examinations of the fan mid-shaft, including dimensional and metallurgical inspections. The GEnx engine uses a “dual shaft” design, meaning one shaft connects the compressor spool at one end to the high-pressure turbine spool at the other end. A longer “fan shaft” connects the fan and booster in the front of the engine to the low-pressure turbine in the back.

Officials have transported the 787’s combined cockpit voice recorder/flight data recorder unit to the agency’s recorders laboratory in Washington, D.C. for processing and readout. Both recordings captured the event, and analysis continues.

Along with conducting detailed examination of the engine and metallurgical analysis of its components, investigators have also begun reviewing the engine manufacturing and assembly records, said the NTSB.

The failure in the “back end” of the engine sparked a grass fire at Charleston International Airport during a pre-flight test, forcing the airport to close its main runway for more than an hour.

The incident involved the second of three 787s that have rolled off Boeing’s new assembly line in Charleston.