The new PM plane will be piloted by IAF pilots but maintained by Air India

NEW DELHI: Two custom-made B777 aircraft, which will be used to fly the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior Indian dignitaries from July next year will be operated by pilots from and not from Air India, a senior official said Wednesday.

However, the new wide-body aircraft will be maintained by Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), which is a subsidiary of the Indian national airline, he said.

Currently, the Prime Minister, President and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu fly on the B747 Air India aircraft, which have the call sign. ''

Air India pilots fly these B747 planes for dignitaries and AIESL maintains them. When these B747 planes are not flying dignitaries, they are used by the Indian national carrier for commercial operations.

The two new B777 planes will arrive in India from the US Boeing facility in July next year. They will have the 'Air India One' badge. Only IAF pilots will fly the two new planes for PM, president and vice president, said a senior official of the national airline.

The official said that 4-6 IAF pilots have already been trained by Air India to fly the B777 aircraft. Some other IAF pilots will come to train soon, he added.

The new airplanes will be used only for the trips of the dignitaries.

B777 aircraft will have state-of-the-art missile defense systems called Large Infrared Countermeasures for Aircraft (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS). In February, the United States agreed to sell the two defense systems to India at a total cost of $ 190 million.

The Center plans to initiate the divestment process of its participation in Air India, which has a debt of more than Rs 60,000 million, as of November this year.