Air India Dreamliner woes continue

Air India's spate of trouble with its Dreamliner fleet continued Friday as the airline was forced to cancel its Melbourne-Delhi flight and delay the departure of its Singapore-Chennai service by over six hours.

New Delhi: Air India's spate of trouble with its Dreamliner fleet continued Friday as the airline was forced to cancel its Melbourne-Delhi flight and delay the departure of its Singapore-Chennai service by over six hours.

While the Melbourne-Delhi flight AI-301 had clogged toilets in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and had to be grounded at the Australian city earlier today, the other aircraft of the same make, operating flight AI-347 developed technical trouble at Singapore and reached Chennai this evening, instead of its scheduled arrival time of 1050 hours, airline sources said.

Many passengers of the Melbourne flight were given hotel accommodation, while some others were put on alternate flights after the cancellation, they said.

The airline had to arrange a team of alternate crew members as the flight duty time limitation (FDTL) for those already on board had come to an end, the sources said.

The recurrent problems with the Dreamliners is understood to have figured in the one-on-on meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with Boeing CEO W James McNerney on September 29 in Washington.

Air India Chairman Rohit Nandan was also in Washington during Modi's meeting, after which McNerney told reporters that Boeing wanted to "accelerate engagement with India".

The national carrier and the planemaker are negotiating a formula for compensation for grounding of the Dreamliners for almost four months last year over battery fires, loss of revenue due to recurrent technical problems and resultant adverse publicity to the airline, apart from the demand for initial deliveries not being as fuel-efficient as promised.

Today's twin incidents involving the Dreamliners came in the wake of similar instances in the recent past, with a Boeing 787 returning to base here after almost three hours of flight to London on Thursday after problems with its air- conditioning system. Last week, another such aircraft developed a crack on the windshield while it was on ground.

Till June-end, there were 318 cases of delays in flights operated by the Dreamliners due to technical snags, according to official figures.