Air India's trouble with its newly-acquired fleet of Dreamliners seems unending as one of these planes from London landed at Delhi airport under emergency conditions after warning lights blipped in the cockpit panel indicating problems with its brakes.
The incident came hours after another of its state-of-the- art Boeing 787s gave a scare after one of the windshields in the cockpit cracked while landing at Melbourne early on MOnday.
The latest in the string of incidents involving the Dreamliner, flight AI-116 from London to Delhi carrying 174 passengers and ten crew members, made a landing under emergency conditions at the IGI Airport on Monday after warning lights blipped.
The pilots, adopting precautionary measures, sought emergency landing as they approached the airport, Air India officials said, adding the aircraft landed safely on Runway 28 at 0222 hours, the officials said.
The aircraft was checked later but no fault was found in the brake system, officials said suspecting that there could be some glitches in the electronic panel. DGCA sources said the aviation regulator was awaiting the probe reports from Air India on the two incidents.
The Civil Aviation Ministry, DGCA as well as Air India were in close touch with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. A Boeing team, stationed in India, was coordinating with the maintenance and engineering staff of Air India.
A Boeing spokesperson said the US aircraft manufacturer was "aware of the in-service issue and we're working with Air India on the matter." She said the Dreamliners were fit to fly but refused to elaborate any further when asked about the aircraft facing frequent glitches. Quoting latest reports, the officials said the cracked windshield was being replaced by a new panel and the aircraft was expected to return from Melbourne here tomorrow.
A top official, requesting anonymity, said all problems relating to the new aircraft like the cracked windshield, a panel falling off from the aircraft's belly or the over-heating of an oven, were "unrelated" to each other and "not major safety concerns."
It would have been a cause of concern had these incidents been related, the official said, giving the example of grounding of all Dreamliners across the world for four months after the January battery-fire incidents in two aircraft operated by Japanese carriers.
A senior Air India pilot, who too refused to be named, said the glitches were "teething problems as the aircraft has been bought almost off the designing board. The plane is safe and sound."
He said cracks in the windshield can happen in any aircraft, even in the Airbus series, due to variances in temperature, air pressure or even electrical malfunctioning. The pilot said new procedures for flying, maintenance and engineering were already in place for operating the Boeing 787s, nine of which are currenly in Air India's fleet.
The airline has ordered 27 Dreamliners and the remaining 18 are to be delivered by 2015.
Two weeks ago after a panel fell off from the aircraft's belly in Bangalore, Boeing's senior vice president (Sales, Asia-Pacific and India) Dinesh Keskar had said, "we are concerned about the problems with Dreamliner. It's a machine, we did our best to design it but something like this happens. But I must state that it is a safe plane, it has never caused issues with the safety of passengers."
Boeing officials claimed that the Dreamliner was currently the most technologically-advanced airplane. Its light carbon fibre body provides greater fuel efficiency, making longer routes possible with less fuel burn, they said.
An Air India Dreamliner which developed a crack on its windshield while landing at the airport here is expected to return to Delhi tonight after repair, officials said today.
The windshield of AI-302 operating on Delhi-Melbourne- Sydney route with 74 passengers and 12 crew members onboard, cracked as the plane landed at Melbourne airport yesterday.
"The jet is being currently fixed with a new windshield," Madhu Mathen, Air India's local manager, told PTI here. "It was a minor incident and there was no panic or threat to the flight," Mathen said.
Mathen said that the aircraft normally have multiple layers and such things can happen to any aircraft anywhere. He said though it was difficult to know the reason for the crack right now, but it could be because of rapid change in atmosphere. He, however, said that Air India Dreamliner flight from Melbourne to Delhi left today on its normal schedule.
"Delhi bound flight left this morning from Melbourne as per its normal time," he added. The incident is the latest in a string of mishaps this year involving the state-of-the-art plane.
Last month, another AI Dreamliner flight to New Delhi with about 200 passengers on board returned to Melbourne Airport after taking off due to a technical snag. The jet was later fixed and resumed the flight next day.