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Air India Dreamliners to get software upgrade starting Dec

An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares for a flying display, during the 50th Paris Air Show, at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June
An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares for a flying display, during the 50th Paris Air Show, at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Air India Ltd plans to upgrade the software in all its 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets from December, saying that the process will not lead to the planes being grounded for long.

The 787 has suffered a series of glitches since it was introduced two years ago, including overheating batteries that prompted regulators to ground the entire global fleet in January. Flights resumed in April.

Other glitches have included a recent windshield crack, and earlier a body panel falling off a 787 operated by Air India, developments that are still under investigation. Air India is the only Indian carrier to operate the Dreamliner.

Boeing and Air India have previously said the recent incidents with Air India Dreamliners did not pose a safety risk to passengers.

An Air India spokesman in New Delhi said there was "no problem" with their Dreamliner jets and that the software upgrade was a routine process.

"Software upgrade is a continuous process" said the spokesman, adding the upgraded software will be installed when the planes are on the ground for two-to-three days for regular maintenance checks.

The carrier will not ground aircraft specifically for upgrading the software as that will hit operations, he said, and that engineers will upgrade one aircraft after the other to help continue normal services.

Boeing said in a statement it would begin in December "the incorporation of service bulletins to enhance the in-service performance of Air India's 787 fleet", without specifying what that would involve.

"The scheduled downtime for the planes will vary airplane to airplane," an India-based spokeswoman for the U.S. planemaker said.

The Economic Times newspaper said earlier on Saturday that Air India was planning to ground all its Dreamliner 787 planes to replace parts and upgrade software. The Air India spokesman told Reuters only the software would be upgraded.

Air India, one of the initial customers of the Dreamliner, has total 27 of the planes on order, of which it has taken delivery of 10. The tenth aircraft arrived in India this week.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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