Interesting Facts About ‘Air India’ You Probably Didn’t Know

Whether it’s the Prime Minister or the President, luxurious residences, trained bodyguards, armored luxury cars and free international travels are some of the perks that come with the top political positions of India.

International travel is one such perk that has been doing rounds in media since PM Modi came into power, but there’s a lot to know about the jets that make it a fascinating affair.

Apart from the 3 Boeing Business Jets, Rajdoot, Rajhans and Rajkamal, for carrying the VVIPs to domestic and nearby countries, there’s the Air India One – used for overseas travel.

Here are some interesting facts about the Air India One, the carrier of our nation’s supreme leaders:

1. Air India One (Flight no. AI 1, always) is a Boeing 747-400 aircraft used to carry the President, the PM and Vice President of India Overseas

2.  Currently, Air India has 5 of these aircrafts that are deployed to carry regular passengers, if not in use for the VVIP flights

3.  The aircraft is operated by the Indian Air Force from Palam Air Force Station, New Delhi

4.  There is a panel of 8 pilots who are prepared to fly the VVIPs, and four pilots are on board at all times during the flight. All the countries en route are informed about the schedule of the VVIP flights

5.  When a VVIP flight is scheduled, an aircraft is pulled out of commercial operation and fitted with VVIP configuration that includes a suite, lounge, bedroom, 6-seater office, satellite phones, etc.

6. The commandos of SPG (Special Protection Group) take over the security of the aircraft and conduct severe checks in every corner of the plane including the fuel and water being loaded. Every panel, switch, and lever is examined, and swab tests are conducted.

7. There’s always a jumbo aircraft kept in standby mode during such flights to tackle emergency situations. Recently, in April 2015, when the PM’s plane developed an engine snag in Berlin, the standby plane was sent to carry him further to Canada

8.  The aircraft is equipped with self-protection systems, but these do not meet the SPG’s requirement for four engines and comes without air to air refueling and anti-missile defense systems

9. In the light of security reasons that caught attention when MH17 was shot down in Ukraine, and Modi’s plane was just minutes away from it, the government has decided to replace the aging aircrafts.

10. Ultra long-haul Boeing 777-300 would now be deployed for VVIP flights by the end of the year 2015-16 as per a decision taken by the Center recently, that would have self-protection suites and complex navigation aids.

11. The 777-300s will be equipped with robust defense systems like ‘radar warning receivers’ and ‘missile-approach warning systems’. These would have the ability to jam radars and shoot metal chaffs or flares at the approaching missiles.