Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Friday indicated that Air India could seek “some kind of compensation’’ for grounding of the six Boeing 787 Dreaminers but said the matter would be taken up later as the priority was to get a clarity on the problem faced by the aircraft across the globe that led to suspension of its operations.
“I guess Air India would be entitled to some compensation but this could be discussed with Boeing when the time comes. These problems will entitle Air India some reimbursement but first let us get some clarity on the problem,’’ he remarked.
At the same time Mr. Singh ruled out a re-think of taking further delivery of the state-of-the-art aircraft. Asked if there would be any move to prune the orders for 27 B-787s, Mr. Singh answered it with a firm ‘no’.
“First let us get some clarity as to what is the problem, how long it will take to rectify it. Most of the orders with Boeing are for these planes around 842. They have worked over ten years to develop this aircraft,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, Air India said it expected an interim report from Boeing and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a day or two on their probe into the technical problems faced by Dreamliner. Following detection of battery related defects, all the 50 Dreamliners across the globe were grounded on Thursday. “We expect at least a preliminary or an interim report from the manufacturer and FAA in a couple of days, which might show us the way ahead. Once a report is received, corrective measures that need to be taken by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India would become clear and we can move forward to handle the problem,’’ a senior Air India official said.
Technical checks on the lithium ion battery, which powers the Boeing-787 Dreamliners, are being carried out in the US by the aircraft manufacturer and FAA. “If the lapses cannot be corrected, replacing the battery could be looked into. The new batteries would also have to be certified and approved by FAA and DGCA,’’ sources added.
Air India had been informed that batteries were undercharging. This was leading them to heat up and swell in size, affecting the electrical and wiring systems and, thereby, causing sparks and fire. According to preliminary reports, the batteries are produced by a Japanese firm, GS Yuasa Corp, which has also begun working with the investigators probing the technical glitches. This is the first time that the powerful lithium-ion batteries are being used on a passenger jet. Their capacity is considerably larger than the nickel-cadmium batteries that are otherwise used in planes. These batteries, which are used in the International Space Station, F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft and battery -powered cars like Tesla and Chevy Volt, generate more electricity required by Dreamliner, including powering the compressor that provides cabin air and the electro-thermal heater mats which prevent its wings from icing. Boeing has already deputed a team in Delhi for any trouble-shooting for Dreamliners.