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Software scan for glitch-hit Dreamliners

New Delhi, Feb. 7: Air India today announced a full software diagnostics check in all its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, two days after a “minor software glitch” forced one of these aircraft to make an emergency landing.

Airline officials added that the national carrier’s B787s, hit by serial glitches for months now, would also see a software upgrade to prevent future outages.

Wednesday’s “glitch” had disabled the aircraft’s autopilot mode and forced the pilot to divert the plane, which had taken off from Melbourne, and land at Kuala Lumpur.

All the three onboard flight management computers, which control navigation and allow a plane to fly long distances on autopilot, are said to have failed simultaneously.

Air India officials claimed that Boeing was carrying out periodic and systematic checks of all the airline’s B787s, with each aircraft “thoroughly looked into from nose to tail”.

“Boeing and our engineers are systematically upgrading the software of all our Dreamliners. It is an ongoing process and would be completed soon,” an Air India spokesperson said.

He added that the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had been informed about Wednesday’s snag and would look into the software failure along with Boeing.

“Reports (on such incidents) are sent to the DGCA and the regulator takes it up with the aircraft manufacturing company,” the spokesperson said.

“These are minor software glitches. If the aircraft are ever in any way a safety threat to passengers, we and the DGCA would ground them immediately as was done earlier.”

A Boeing spokesperson said: “The diversion of an Air India 787 earlier this week was due to an issue that we understand has already been resolved. The airplane has returned to service.”

The spokesperson added: “Boeing always has and will work on resolving all issues that the aircraft might face. These glitches do not compromise safety of passengers.”

The Dreamliner’s journey with the Maharaja has been turbulent since the day it took off on its maiden flight. Constant technical snags have forced the airline to run to the US aircraft major almost daily.

Air India now has 11 Dreamliners and will have three more delivered by next month.

Last month, a B787 operated by the national carrier returned to London when its transponder failed during a flight to New Delhi.

Also in January, Japan Airlines reported smoke coming out of a stationary B787 at Narita International Airport, Tokyo, causing concern among user airlines.

Sources said the DGCA would study the reports of the investigations being conducted by Japan Airlines, the Japanese aviation regulators, and the US Federal Aviation Administration.

In November last year, an Air India B787 showed cracks on its windshield after it landed in Melbourne. The same month, another Air India Dreamliner, with 184 passengers and crew on board and flying on a London-Delhi route, made a priority landing in Delhi after warning lights blipped in the cockpit indicating a problem with the braking system.

A month earlier, an 8ft by 4ft panel fell off the fuselage of a Dreamliner carrying 150 passengers while it was landing at Bangalore, leaving a gaping hole in the cargo hold.

In January last year, B787 fleets across the world were grounded after a series of fires involving the aircraft battery. Air India was allowed to resume its Dreamliner services in May.