National Carrier Air India will take delivery of first of the fourteen A320neo aircraft in its fleet with a delivery flight from Toulouse, France today. The airline had signed a deal with Kuwait based lessor ALAFCO to lease 14 Airbus A320neo aircraft. Air India has floated another tender for lease of additional A320neo aircraft and intends to have a total of 29 A320neo by end of 2019.
Air India chose CFM Leap Engines for its A320neo and is the first operator of CFM leap in India. IndiGo and Go Air operate the A320neo in India and both the airlines have opted for Pratt & Whitney PurePower Engines based on the newer Geared Turbo Fan Technology. AirAsia was the global launch customer for A320neo with CFM engines, while Lufthansa became the launch customer for A320neo after Qatar refused to take delivery of the aircraft citing issues with the Pratt & Whitney engines.
In the last few weeks IndiGo and Go Air have faced issues with the engines, starting with fire on an IndiGo aircraft while on ground and an engine shut down post take off on Go Air flight from Delhi to Bengaluru.
Air India had opted for CFM engines for its fleet of A319/320/321 while the airline continues to operate the IAE powered A320, the unique double bogey planes. Air India currently operates 66 A320 family aircraft which includes few which have been in service for close to 25 years. This includes the oldest A320 in active service worldwide, VT-EPB which is 27 years old airframe.
The first A320neo for the airline is to be registered as VT-EXF (MSN 7459) and flew with test registration F-WWIA. The aircraft made its first flight on 18th January 2017 and flew from Toulouse to Hamburg. The delivery flight will be non-stop from Toulouse to New Delhi operating as AI170. Air India is the 18th customer for A320neo.