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Investigative agency to file criminal charges in Airbus Indian Airlines aircraft purchase deal

The Press Trust of India and other media is reporting that the India’s federal investigative agency the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is getting ready to file a criminal case against European airframer Airbus, the erstwhile national domestic carrier Indian Airlines (which is now merged in to Air India), senior civil aviation officials, for alleged irregularities in the 43 narrow body jetliner procurement in 2005, worth over Rs. 8,000 crore ($1.6 billion).

Airbus A320 from the order on delivery flight

The CBI had started probing the deal after the clauses concerning the set-up of a $175 million MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) facility as part of offsets under the deal were apparently diluted by some officials to favour Airbus.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in September, had severely criticised the aircraft procurement by Indian Airlines and Air India from Airbus and Boeing respectively. The CAG had crticised the committments of Airbus on the MRO as being “open ended” while noting that in 2008, Indian Airlines entered a joint venture with EADS, the parent company of Airbus, for the MRO, but there was no tangible progress.

In a demonstration of how politicians and bureaucracy protect themselves, quoting the PTI report

The agency has concluded its preliminary enquiry in the matter and sought the permission of the Civil Aviation Ministry to prosecute officials in the case, CBI sources said.

If there is prima facie evidence of criminal conduct, why is permission required to prosecute?

Do you feel that there are irregularities in the Boeing aircraft procurement by Air India? If yes, do you feel the culprits in either case will ever be brought to justice?

Post your thoughts via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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