Spokespersons for Air India Ltd have revealed that the carrier 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. The 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.