Friday, July 4, 2008

Grounded Airplanes Transformed


Clever transformations of airplanes are being done in both Stockholm and Delhi

Travelers in Stockholm who missed their plane, have delays or who wants to join the mile high club (without the mile) will soon be able to stay in one of the 80 rooms that will be created in a grounded 747 at Arlanda airport. There will also be a more exclusive suite in the cockpit for the higher rollers.

In India another concept is flourishing with the help of a grounded Airbus 300. The passengers boarding in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because of course; it never takes off. All they want is the chance to know what it is like to sit on a
plane, listen to announcements and be waited on by flight attendants
bustling up and down the aisle. In a country where 99 per cent of the population have never
experienced air travel, the "virtual journeys" of Bahadur Chand Gupta,
a retired Indian Airlines engineer, have proved a roaring success. As on an ordinary aircraft, customers buckle themselves in and watch
a safety demonstration. But when they look out of the windows, the
landscape never changes. Even if "Captain" Gupta wanted to get off the ground, the plane
would not go far: it has only one wing and a large part of the tail is

None of that bothers Mr Gupta as he sits at the controls in his
cockpit. His regular announcements include "We will soon be passing
through a zone of turbulence
", "We are about to begin our descent
into Delhi
" and "if you look out the window now, you will see Taj Mahal on your left hand side".

"Some of my passengers have crossed the country to get on this
" said Mr Gupta, who charges passengers about $4 for taking the
The plane has no lighting and the lavatories are out of order. The air-conditioning is powered by a generator. Even so, about 40 passengers turn up each Saturday to queue for boarding cards. Mr Gupta bought the plane in 2003 from an insurance company. It was
dismantled and then put together again in a southern suburb of Delhi. The Indian Airlines logo on the fuselage has been replaced by the name Gupta.

Passengers are looked after by a crew of six, including Mr Gupta's
wife, who goes up and down the aisle with her drinks trolley, serving
meals in airline trays. Some of the flight attendants hope to get jobs
on proper planes one day and regard it as useful practice. As for the passengers, they are too poor to afford a real airline
ticket and most have only ever seen the interior of an aircraft in

"I see planes passing all day long over my roof" Selim, a 40-year-old tyre mechanic, was quoted as saying. "I had to try out the experience."

Jasmine, a young teacher, had been longing to go on a plane. "It is much more beautiful than I ever imagined" she said.



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