National carrier Air India (AI), currently facing flanks due to technical snags and alleged uncomfortable long haul flights, has embarked on a multi pronged approach to ensure passenger comforts.
Even as AI is gearing up to receive its first new aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 LR in June 2006 to be deployed as a non-stop long haul route, it has placed a $50 million (Rs 205 crore) order to install comfortable seats inside the Boeing 787s, the first of which is scheduled for delivery in September 2008.
Boeing 787, called the Dreamliner is still under development. Its first delivery is scheduled in August 2008 and AI is one its launch customers.
"We have selected Webber seats for the economy class and Contor seats for the business class to be installed in each of the 27 Boeing 787s, which would be inducted in our fleet from September 2008 onwards," said S Venkat AI’s Executive Director Finance and spokesman.
"These are the latest state-of-the art seats, which are electronically controlled from a cradle position to flat bed. These seats will be fitted with top of the line entertainment systems which is shortly being selected," he added.
These seats are specially designed by Webber and Contor to ensure better passenger comforts and will be a marked change from the current seats in Air India’s aircraft.
One of the major concerns of air passengers have been the cramped seats in which they were made to fly for long hours causing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This had lead to several deaths of air passengers of different airlines.
Dr BK Goyal, Chief Cardiologist, Bombay Hospital said, "Such seats should help air passengers to have a comfortable flight as they can have more leg movements to prevent blood clotting inside veins which lead to cardiac failure."
Since the Boeing 787s will be replacing Air India’s aging fleet of Airbus A310s in the Gulf, South East Asia and Far East routes as well as supplement Boeing 777-200’s long range operations, comfortable seating arrangement was one of the major priorities for the airline currently bogged by depleting market share and dissatisfaction among a section of its passengers.
The seats will be arranged in such a manner that passengers requiring more legroom can have a comfortable flight. The legroom in a business class will be 74-inch pitch and economy class 33 inches. All the Boeing 787s of Air India will be in two-class configuration.
The special feature of the Boeing 787 is that it comes with an overhead flight crew rest cabin. "This will help us to operate this aircraft in long haul non stop routes as we can fly in two pairs of crew to comply with the regulations. Some of these 787s can be deployed from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai linking the east coast of USA," said Venkat.