It was a smooth start for Air India's newly acquired Boeing 787 Dreamliner as it took to the air on its maiden commercial flight from Delhi today but the cheers gave way to anxious moments as the next flight was delayed due to a 'minor' problem in plane's air conditioning.
The Dreamliner's first commercial flight, between Delhi and Chennai, took off as scheduled at 7:10 AM from the IGI airport amid cheers from the 116 passengers on board.
Captain A S Soman was the Commander while Captain Andrews as second-in-command. The flight was accorded a water cannon salute accompanied by traditional pujas on arrival at the Chennai airport on the festival day of Vinakayaka Chaturthi.
"Traditional pujas such as breaking of coconut to mark the first flight of the Dreamliner were also conducted there," an Air India spokesperson said, adding the aircraft later left for New Delhi with 92 passengers.
The same aircraft was to operate on the Delhi-Bangalore route and was scheduled to depart at 4.30 PM.
"But the Captain experienced some minor glitch with the aircraft's air-conditioning system and asked the engineers to check, before the take-off," the Air India official said. The aircraft was cleared for flying after the problem was rectified but the flight finally took off at 6.35 PM, after a delay of about two hours.
According to sources, the plane was delayed as it was refuelled and there was no vacant slot for Air India to take off. The air traffic control provided the slot around 6.35 PM and the flight took off safely.
The national carrier today received its second Dreamliner aircraft, having registration number VT-AND, which arrived at the IGI airport from Charleston in the US.
"The plane was piloted by Captain Nivedita Bhasin who is presently the only woman pilot for the B-787's commercial flight in the world," the spokesperson said.