Friday’s Air India Chicago – Delhi flight AI126 was delayed — because the FAA wouldn’t allow the plane to leave. Inspectors found missing tags displaying technical standard order numbers on seat belts of 44 passenger seats and 12 flight attendant seats.
Air India sent “seat belt tags from another Air India flight” — AI102 from New York JFK to Delhi that’s scheduled to leave around the same time as the Chicago flight — on board a Delta regional jet operated by Endeavor Air, most likely DL4095 to replace the missing ones from the O’Hare flight. The Chicago flight was booked full.
Air India Boeing 777-200LR, Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo
According to media reports the flight was delayed 8 hours. A quick check of several sites like Flightradar24, Flightstats, and Planefinder does not show the flight at all (although the flight comes up when searching for the occurrence aircraft). Air India’s website shows a departure delay of just 5 hours 21 minutes.
Here’s the thing about the incident. When you’re Air India, even if you think safety regulations are frivolous, you don’t say so. Except that’s exactly what they did.
“The seat belts were perfectly fine. Only some had tags worn out. This is an instance of impractical or irrelevant stipulations being imposed on Air India by FAA. However, we would take necessary action to ensure such things don’t recur. A lot of new seat belts have been ordered.” said the Air India’s spokesperson.
A senior AI official said that FAA is subjecting the Maharaja’s aircraft to stringent checks at all the stations it flies to — New York JFK and Newark, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. “The checks have intensified in the recent past. While technically FAA was correct in pointing out the missing TSO tags, we told them that new seat belts have been ordered and the old ones will be replaced very soon. Still the aircraft was not allowed to take off till we got some belts from another of our aircraft in New York,” said the official.
The aircraft in question, VT-ALK, is named Chattisgarh. Four years ago it bumped the tail of a JetBlue Airbus A320 while taxiing to its gate on arrival in New York.
Air India can’t fly without seat belt tags. Lack of air conditioning isn’t a stopper. Even bird strikes aren’t a stopper. (Although failing to pair attractive crew with pilots can cancel a flight.)
Air India’s Chief Vigilance Officer is being charged with corruption.
This never gets old…