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Air India has closed the curtain on an era, selling its last four Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets. These majestic aircraft, once a symbol of Air India’s global reach, have found new homes with US company AerSale.

The sale marks a significant moment in Indian aviation history. The 747s, fondly nicknamed “Queen of the Skies,” were synonymous with luxury air travel for decades. Their wide cabins and spacious interiors offered passengers a comfortable and luxurious flying experience.

Many hoped these aircraft would be acquired by India’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) for a crucial purpose – serving as a flying testbed. A four-engine jet like the 747 is the preferred platform for engine development.

The Boeing 747-400’s four-engine configuration (quad jet) could have made it an ideal platform for testing new jet engines. GTRE could have potentially used them as flying testbeds for India’s Kaveri engine program (for fighter jets) and the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) program.

The four-engine layout allows for a test engine to be mounted on a pylon beneath the fuselage, separate from the aircraft’s primary engines. 747 as a Testbed could have allowed for evaluation of engine performance under various simulated operational conditions, including different altitudes and speeds.

While the sale of the 747s closes a chapter, the dream of a domestic testbed remains. India’s pursuit of indigenous engine development continues, and future opportunities for acquiring suitable test platforms may arise.