CBI to investigate the acquisition of 68 Boeing aircraft by Air India
In reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the civil aviation ministry has informed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating the purchase of 68 Boeing planes by Air India. In December 2005, the Air India had placed a $11 billion order for buying 68 aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 777s and 787s. In 2011, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had reported the purchase as faulty as it had an adverse impact on the airline's financial health. The then civil aviation minister Praful Patel has rejected an allegation of wrongdoing and pointed that the decision to order 68 planes was approved by an empowered group of ministers and later by the Union Cabinet.
The Air India board had initially proposed buying 28 planes but the decision was revised and the 40 more planes were added to the order size. The CAG had also questioned the urgency shown in placing the order for 68 planes as it emerged that the earlier proposal for acquiring 28 aircraft had taken two years (w.e.f. January 2002) to prepare and submit, while the revised long-term fleet for the 50-aircraft plan was completed in a span of four months (w.e.f. August 2004) under the Chairmanship of V Thulasidas. The Air India was advised to revisit its proposal by the civil aviation ministry for expanding its requirement of aircraft and the CBI is looking into why the Air India changed its original order.