A Boeing technical team is in India applying a “modification package” developed for Air India’s 787 fleet, which has been grounded for nearly two weeks by government order.
“To ensure reliability and safety, all the 10 787 aircraft in the Air India fleet [have] been taken in for a 10-day maintenance grounding, beginning from Dec. 1, junior Civil Aviation Minister K. C. Venugopal says.
Air India has been in constant contact with Boeing on 787 reliability issues, and officials noted that since the type joined Air India’s fleet a year ago September, 136 separate, minor, technical fixes have been required. Even Air India’s inaugural 787 flight on September 18 last year was riddled with minor problems in the aircraft’s air conditioning.
The Boeing team is applying the new modification package, which is mostly software-related, sequentially to each 787 at Air India’s Mumbai facility.
“The Boeing technical team has been involved in root-cause analysis and in evolving the remedial measures,” Venugopal says. “Accordingly, a reliability enhancement modification package consisting of upgrades to aircraft software and components has been prepared.” On November 6, Air India accepted its tenth 787 from Seattle of a planned 27 ordered.
January’s battery-related grounding of the 787 fleet cost Air India 6 million rupees per day to cover swapping aircraft on key routes and 14.3 million rupees per day on aircraft financing and flight-crew costs. Boeing’s retrofits brought Air India’s aircraft back into service by mid-May.
A Boeing official in India acknowledges concerns with the problems, but emphasizes that safety has never been compromised.
“We are concerned...it’s a machine, we did our best to design it... but something happens. But it is a safe airplane, it has never caused issues with the safety of passengers,” Dinesh Keskar, Senior Vice President (Sales, Asia-Pacific and India) of Boeing, said recently. “Today, worldwide we are at 97% reliability. We are not pleased with that, we will improve that and we will put resource to do that and Air India is no exception.”