The Custom made Boeing 777 Air India One meant to ply VVIPs such as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President India Ram Nath Kovind has landed in India.
“The Boeing jet landed at 3.11 pm on Thursday,” a top aviation ministry official said.
The B777 planes will have state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
The plane was scheduled to be delivered by aircraft manufacturer Boeing to Air India in July but its delivery was delayed twice – once in July for a few weeks due to COVID-19 pandemic and then in August for a few weeks due to technical reasons – the officials noted.
Another custom-made B777 plane for the travel of VVIPs is likely to be received from Boeing during a later date, they noted.
These two aircraft were part of Air India’s commercial fleet for a few months in 2018 before they were sent back to Boeing for retrofitting them for VVIP travel.
Officials said the total cost of purchase and retrofitting the two planes has been estimated to be around ₹ 8,400 crore.
During the travel of the VVIPs, the two B777 aircraft will be operated by pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and not of Air India, an official said.
Currently, the President, Vice President and Prime Minister, fly on Air India’s B747 planes, which have the call sign Air India One.
Air India pilots fly these B747 aircraft for the dignitaries and the Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) maintains them.