India has got the delivery of one of the two specially modified Boeing 777 aircraft, which will fly VVIPs like president, vice president and prime minister. The custom-made B777 aircraft arrived from Texas, the US, in Delhi on Thursday this week after undergoing modification for over two years.
Boeing had earlier planned to deliver the aircraft to Air India by August after a postponement in July due to COVID-19 but the delivery was delayed again due to technical reasons, PTI quoted officials as saying.
Boeing will now deliver another custom-made VVIP aircraft to Air India by this month. These two planes will incur the retrofitting cost worth Rs 8,400 crore.
The VVIPs like PM or president earlier flew on Air India's Boeing 747 aircraft. These 20-year-old planes lack ultra-modern security features like sensors to detect and jam missiles and safe and secure communications systems.
These two special planes will be flown by two Indian Air Force pilots, who have been trained by Air India to operate the VVIP planes.
The aircraft's call sign is 'Air India One' like that of US President Donald Trump's, which is Air Force One. The current Boeing 747 planes of the president, vice president and the prime minister also bear the call sign 'Air India One'. Unlike the new modified planes, Boeing 747 planes are flown by Air India staff.
These planes are also used by the national carrier for commercial flights when they are not flying VVIPs. In a change, the new planes will be used for the travel of the dignitaries only. Both these modified planes were briefly included in the Air India fleet in 2018 but were later sent back to the US for modification.
Here are some special features of VVIP plane:
- State-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS)
- The LAIRCM is an advanced missile detection system that automatically detects and jams enemy missile systems, without any action required by the pilot
- Self-Protection Suites are also used by the US President's Air Force One. It includes countermeasures dispensing systems and defensive warfare suites
- They provide extraordinary comfort, have superior range, are best in terms of fuel efficiency