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'AI Dreamliner to Fly Only After FAA, DGCA Green Signal'

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh today said the grounded fleet of Boeing Dreamliner aircraft would be allowed to fly only after clearance by US regulator Federal Aviation Administration and the DGCA.

"Certainly, we will not fly the Dreamliner until the FAA and our own DGCA give clearance," he told reporters here.

The Minister's statement came after national carrier Air India grounded all its six Boeing-787 Dreamliner planes after a global directive by FAA to stop operations of all the 50 such planes delivered so far to various airlines.

On the extent of seriousness of the problem with the aircraft, Singh said, "How long it will take, we will all know only in a couple of days but there are about 50 dreamliners in operations for more than a year, therefore more than 50,000 miles. So let us hope they can find a solution soon."

The Minister said he had talked to the FAA and the US regulator has said that "it will check all the planes, entire system because of this battery problem".

He said the DGCA was constantly in touch with the FAA and "what I think and what I know is that Boeing has to come with a plan for the FAA to test all the electrical system and batteries."

"When that plan comes up, we will also test them but basically first FAA has to approve that they are safe to fly," Singh said.

Later, when asked whether Air India would be compensated for the troubles in the Dreamliner and their subsequent grounding, the minister said, "This can 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 matter, Singh told NDTV.

He also made it clear that Air India would again fly its Dreamliners only after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DGCA certified them airworthy.

To a question on whether Air India's operations would be affected, he said the national carrier "will definitely find ways and planes" to take over the routes earlier flown by the Boeing 787s.

Singh said Air India has already decided to replace the Dreamliners flying to Paris and Frankfurt with Boeing 777s, which were already operating on these long-haul routes.

Asked whether the trouble meant the complete grounding of the aircraft, he said he did not forsee such a situation in the long run, though there "could be some losses in the short term." Boeing has been working on the airplane for over a decade and it was put on sale only after all checks were carried out and certified by the FAA, as per law, he said.

Singh said it was too early to speculate by when the planes would be ready to be flown.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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