Centre hunts for replacement of PM’s VIP plane

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    NEW DELHI: Will the President and Prime Minister soon be flying long overseas trips aboard Air India One or Air Force One?

    The government is in the process of finding a replacement to the over two-decade-old Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets of Air India that have been used for long distance VVIP flights. But before the successor to the original "queen of the skies" (B-747) is found, a panel of secretaries of top ministries like defence, finance, aviation, external affairs, home along with brass of the special protection group will this month meet to address two key issues — whether the new plane should be two-engine or four-engine and whether AI or Indian Air Force should be operating and maintaining the chariot of the sky.

    "There is a huge price difference in the price of twin-engine and four-engine jets. So there is the obvious financial angle," said highly placed sources.

    The IAF maintains and operates a fleet of Boeing Business Jets for use by top VVIPs like President, Vice-President and Prime Minister for flying within India and to neighbouring countries. "The secretaries will decide whether the new aircraft should be with AI or IAF. If they decide in favour of the IAF, then the defence establishment will decide the successor aircraft. Else, civil aviation authorities will take a technical call on which plane is best suited for the VVIPs," said the source.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi boarding the special Air India plane on his way to Japan earlier this year.

    The final decision will be taken by the highest echelons of the government. However given the long-distance requirement, the choice for both the defence and civil aviation authorities is going to be limited to the options from Boeing and Airbus.

    The four-engine options from Boeing are the four-engine B-747 and two-engine B-777 and B-787. Incidentally, AI already has both the long range (LR) and extended range (ER) versions of the Boeing 777, apart from the constantly snag-ridden Dreamliners (787).

    The B-777s had been inducted into AI's fleet after 2007, and the Dreamliners are brand new with many yet to be delivered to the airline. The B 777-300 ER and B-787 compare favourably to the fuel-guzzling B-777 200 LR. AI is, in fact, getting rid of the LRs as keeping it on ground is less loss-making than flying it due to its abysmally poor fuel efficiency.

    Sources do not rule out the possibility of using AI's wide body Boeing planes as the next VVIP jet with certain changes as they are already in the fleet and do not have to be bought afresh. Even if the government decides in favour of IAF maintaining and operating the next VVIP Jet, the same can be transferred from AI to IAF, reducing the Maharaja's loan.

    The other options are from Airbus — four-engine A-340 and two-engine A-330, apart from the under development A-350.

    The current list price of Boeing's long range jets goes from Rs 2,282 crore for a brand new B-747-8 to Rs 1,352 crore for a B 787-8. Airbus long range jets' current list price goes from Rs 2,112 crore for A-350-1000 to Rs 1,375 crore for A-330-200. (Calculations at Rs 62 to a dollar).

    "AI's old B-747s are still trustworthy. The only issue is that their old engine and body frame make them fuel guzzlers. The fuel efficiency of new planes is obviously much better. It is just like comparing a well-maintained old car with a new one that boats of latest technology, comfort along with fuel efficiency," said a source.

    Centre hunts for replacement of PM’s VIP plane - The Times of India
     
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  3. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    If the plane is required to be equipped with Secrecy devices, defensive and offensive systems, command and control elements and systems then there is no choice - IAF will have to manage that. If it were to be simple taxi then AI could be the contender.

    What is the use of such high level group deciding on that ?
     
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  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Possibly to give it a very 'official' touch and an earth shaking event.
     
  5. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Remember Nawaz Sharif came in a C 130 of PAF and was ridiculed by Pak media.

    The aircraft for the PM should be a 4 engine plane for safety and should be handled by IAF due to all the security paraphernalia associated with it.
     
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