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Air India Acquired Boeing 777s Belonging to Delta But They Can’t Be Used On Some Flights to the US Due to Oxygen Constraints

Air India Acquired Boeing 777s Belonging to Delta But They Can’t Be Used On Some Flights to the US Due to Oxygen Constraints

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Air India is facing an official probe by aviation regulators after the airline allegedly tried to use a Boeing 777-200 aircraft on a flight from Delhi to North America without enough emergency oxygen onboard for the planned flight path.

The Indian flag carrier operates a variety of Boeing 777s, and its older models are fitted with an additional emergency oxygen cylinder that supplies extra oxygen to the overhead masks in the unlikely event of a depressurization.

The extra oxygen tank is needed for some of Air India’s flights that fly high above mountainous regions that make it impossible to immediately descend to a lower altitude where oxygen isn’t required if a depressurization were to occur.

Late last year, however, Air India started to take delivery of some Boeing 777-200s that once belonged to Delta Air Lines after the carrier decided to retire the fleet during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, these aircraft haven’t been fitted with the additional oxygen tank, so the overhead oxygen masks would only work for up to 20 minutes.

That’s a perfectly acceptable amount of time for an oxygen mask to work in most cases because if a depressurization were to happen, the pilot’s first priority is to get the plane down to around 10,000 feet, which is a safe enough altitude to breathe without requiring pure oxygen.

In the case of Air India’s flights from Delhi to North America, however, the flight path takes planes over the Hindu Kush mountain range, which has peaks between 19,000 and 26,000 feet, so oxygen supplies of up to 30 minutes are required.

Regulators are, however, investigating claims that Air India accidentally tried to deploy one of the ex-Delta jets on a Delhi to North America flight. The Captain apparently refused to operate the flight after realising the safety issue and reported the incident to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which has opened a probe.

In response to the reports of the incident in the Times of India, a spokesperson for the airline commented:

“The matter in question is multi-dimensional and has already been examined by Air India and external experts. We will restrain from offering any comment on this specific case but we wish to reiterate that the safety of our passengers and crew is our foremost priority and there is no compromise on the same”.

Air India acquired five ex-Delta 777s, and they are used to serve US destinations from Mumbai and Bengaluru, where there are no operational constraints due to the oxygen cylinder.

The airline has been on a shopping spree for both new and ‘pre-loved’ planes, which is a quick way to modernise the airline’s ageing fleet, but it does add extra complexity to fleet management and utilisation.

View Comments (4)
  • This post is misleading and misrepresentation of facts. Some of the important points . You should know that before printing anything like that you have to take the view of the opposite party which is the pilot who refused to operate and why he did so. Where do you get your information from ? You are trying to falsifying facts only to suit the airline.

    • As stated in the article, the source is the Times of India.
      How is the article trying to suit the airline? It clearly states that a probe has been opened and is investigating the airline for the apparent rule lapse. I would say that the pilot did absolutely the right thing, but that’s my opinion.

      • If anyone gets to know the real truth of this matter nobody will ever dare to buy an Air India ticket ever! It is one thing to be ignorant about something, which an airline cannot have an excuse to so be. What has transpired is deliberate and a criminal violation of critical safety regulations despite being repeatedly cautioned. This article is carefully written to save the face of the airline by suppressing the glaring and shameless acts of the airline. Agreed the pilot did the right thing and the obvious thing to not endanger the lives of crew and passengers. When the true facts come out the airline will see itself in the biggest mess since its decades of existence .

        • Wow! Air India has actually.always been suspect with its safety procedures, training and bad service. Recently their training facilities were audited and ordered to shutdown temporarily due to major shortcomings. It seems Air India is going from bad to worse. It is heartening to know there are such pilots who are brave enough to stand up to these illegal and unsafe practices.

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