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After 2-month delay, first-ever VVIP plane set to arrive later this month

The Boeing 777-300 planes were inducted into Air India's fleet in 2018

The Boeing 777-300 planes were inducted into Air India's fleet in 2018   | Photo Credit: K. Ramesh Babu

The first of the two brand new VVIP planes will return to India later this month after a delay of two months due to COVID-19, according to a government official.

The two Boeing 777-300s, which were bought by Air India, will be the first-ever meant for exclusive use by India's VVIPs, i.e. the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister. As of now, Air India lends its Boeing 747 aircraft for VVIP foreign trips by withdrawing them from commercial flights.

Also Read | Air India has dues of over ₹822 crore towards VVIP charter flights

The Boeing 777-300 planes were inducted into Air India's fleet in 2018, but sent to Boeing's facility at Dallas- Fort Worth within months for retrofitment worthy of India's top dignitaries.

These planes were scheduled to return by June 30 and July 30 this year, according to the agreement between Air India and Boeing but the aerospace manufacturer sought an extension of two months after delays in regulatory clearances from the US Federal Aviation Authority caused due to travel restrictions imposed following the spread of COVID-19.

“The first of the two planes will arrive in the week of August 24, and the second a month later,” the official said.

To be de-registered by AI

Once these planes arrive in India, they will be de-registered by Air India and handed over to the Indian Air Force. These planes will then be entered into the IAF's registry and get a K-series registration number given to military aircraft.

The revamped aircraft will include a press conference room, a conference room for VVIPs, a suite comprising a bedroom and a bathroom. To protect the country’s topmost dignitaries from aerial attacks, the aircraft will be equipped with missile warning sensors and counter measures dispensing defence system, which are a part of the large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) self-protection suites (SPS) provided by the U.S. government for $190 million.

The government has paid Air India Rs 4,632 crore towards the cost of these planes.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 1:45:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/after-2-month-delay-first-ever-vvip-plane-set-to-arrive-later-this-month/article32287491.ece

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