With the last flight from Delhi to Mumbai, Air India grounded its AI 865 aircraft. This puts an end to the 30-year old classic Airbus A320 fleet of Air India.
The plan to eliminate all 14 classic A320 planes was first announced in April 2014. Air India then said that it would retire them in a phased manner. Instead, the national carrier inducted more fuel-efficient Airbus A320 Neo aircraft.
Air India thanked the engineers in a tweet for keeping the flights fit for operations. VT-ESL was the last of Air India’s A320 Class fleet. It has flown 61,600 hours and carried out 38,000 landings since its delivery to Air India in 1994.
The first A320 Classic was rolled out of the final assembly line on February 14, 1987, and made its maiden flight on February 22. The value of the first A320 flight was $30 million in 1988, and it showed a 30% increase by 1990. After 2001, the price dropped to $37 million, then again increased to $47 million in 2008.
Air India is the only carrier with that kind of landing gear in the A320 due to India’s low pavement classification number back when those A320s were ordered. In other words, more tyres distribute the load over a larger area, The Hindu quoted a pilot attached to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA).
Civil Aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) called for grounding of these planes citing passenger safety. Following the order, Air India commenced the induction of Airbus A320 Neo aircraft. In 2017, VT-ESL witnessed a runway over-run after landing. The cause of the incident was later attributed to the delay in the touchdown of the plane and low deceleration rate due to improper brake application.
The engineering staff of Air India called the model a ‘workhorse’ and bid goodbye to it on social media.