MIAMI – The merge between Indian Airlines and Air India (AI) was not the only thing that increases the the flag carrier’s network in the country. Airbus created a special version of the A320 for the former, one with a different landing gear.
During the 90s, certain runways at Indian airports did not have the infrastructure to handle the weight of certain aircraft. These included the two-wheel configuration jets, which Indian Airlines expected to receive with the Airbus A320s.
To address this issue, Airbus built a special version of the A320 with a four-wheel bogie. With a two wheel bogie configuration on each side, the aircraft records a maximum take-off weight of around 78 tons. However, with the newly-featured four-wheel bogies on each side, less weight was pressed onto the ground.
The 31 four-wheeled bogied aircraft that Indian Airlines received from 1989 to 1994 went on to AI in 2007 for to service its domestic operations. While several updates in infrastructure were later made at Indian airports, the modified A320s jets was nevertheless kept in service for 30 years until 2019.
Review of the Special Airbus A320
Last year, the airline said it would retire the special A320 aircraft but that it would maintain them for on-job training. These will be used by AI’s own engineers and those from third-party engineers. As such, an AI senior engineer declared that the company loved the special aircraft with its “unique” bogie wheels.
However, The Times of India reported that Pilots complained about the modified A320 aircraft because of its poor weather radar and other age-related maladies. The media even quoted a Pilot who was familiar with the model by saying that because of the A320’s bogie wheels, the aircraft “was a fuel guzzler.”
Currently, AI has nine Airbus A320-200 with an average age of 15 years with the oldest airline having 44 years, according to PlanesPotter.
Featured photo: Air India Airbus A320-231. Photo: Alan Lebeda.