New Delhi, October 15: Air India One, the first of the custom-made Boeing B777 aircraft will be used to fly the President of India, Vice President and the Prime Minister on international state visits. The first plane arrived in Delhi from the US on October 1, 2020 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) Airport. The second B777 plane will arrive in the coming months. The aircraft will be specially retrofitted with the latest self-defence protection suite for VVIP transport duties. The new aircraft will have the call sign ‘Air India One’. At present, the three premiers travel on Air India’s Boeing 747 planes, which have served for nearly 25 years. Air India One: Custom-Made B777 Aircraft for VVIP Travel Arrives in India From US (Watch Video).
Air India One: All You Need to Know
- The aircraft, which was originally owned by Air India, will now be handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF), which will use it to ferry the Prime Minister, the President and the Vice President.
- The new aircraft will have the call sign ‘Air India One’. The two aircraft that have been modified have cost approximately Rs 8,400 crore.
- The two custom-made Boeing 777 planes will be used to fly the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister from July 2021.
- The B777 planes will have state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
- In terms of livery, the aircraft dones the national emblem and the name 'India' and 'Bharat' written in both Hindi and English on either sides of the aircraft, while the national flag is present on the tail wing.
- At present, the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister travel on Boeing 747 aircraft which will hold the coveted call-sign of 'Air India One'.
- The aircraft will be operated by pilots of the Indian Air Force and not of Air India. However, the new wide-body planes will be maintained by Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), which is a subsidiary of the Indian national carrier
- Reports inform that the planes can reportedly fly between India and the US in one go without having to stop for refuelling.
- The Air India One planes have similar security measures as the Air Force One planes used by the US President. Similar to the Air Force One, the Air India One aircraft also has Self-Protection Suites and a massive office space with conference cabins.
- In February, the US agreed to sell the two defence systems to India at a cost of $190 million. These planes are equipped with advance communication system.
The aircraft was scheduled to arrive in India in July 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the handing over of the retro-fitted aircraft was delayed. It had initially served in the fleet of Air India in 2018 before being flown back to a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, where it was fitted with the latest air defence protection technology.