Boeing’s chief salesman for India predicted that there would be “better clarity” on the murky, delayed Air India delivery schedule a week ago.
Dinesh Keskar made that prediction Aug. 3 after the Indian government granted the airline, which it owns, approval to take delivery of the 27 Dreamliners it has on order.
“When I wake up on Monday, they will have worked their whole day, and we will have a better clarity on the delivery and when that will take place and all that sort of thing,” said the Boeing senior vice president for sales in Asia Pacific and India.
But on that Monday, Keskar explained the Air India executives in Mumbai still had to travel to New Delhi to meet with the government officials and that there would be no update. There was no update the rest of the week either.
Instead there was just more uncertainty.
On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board issued its own update, revealing which part of an Air India Dreamliner’s General Electric-made engine failed during a preflight taxi test in North Charleston on July 28.
The NTSB reported “a fan mid-shaft ... fractured,” leading the engine’s drive shaft to slide backward and cause blades in its low-pressure turbine to collide with stator vanes in that turbine.
Pieces of those parts then were ejected out the back of the engine, causing a small fire, briefly shutting down the airport and generating international headlines.
That conclusion seemed to rule out the possibility of any Boeing South Carolina responsibility for the incident, but raised more questions about the engines that will power each S.C.-built 787 assembled for Air India and hundreds more in the airframer’s order book.
The GEnx-powered planes in service continue to fly, and GE continues to ship those engines, according to a GE spokesman last week.
And on Friday, Air India, which has lost money since its 2007 merger with Indian Airlines, issued a request for bridge financing for its third through sixth Dreamliners. Apparently, the carrier is set to pay for two of the finished jets sitting on Boeing South Carolina’s flight line, but there’s still some question about the third (and beyond).
So, unfortunately, a week after clarity seemed imminent, when Air India will take its first Dreamliners is perhaps even murkier.