President Ram Nath Kovind boarded the Air India One-B777 aircraft today for its inaugural flight, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement. President Kovind is visiting Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh to offer prayers at the Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple.

"This is the first flight of the Air India One-B777 aircraft with the head of State on board. The aircraft is fuel efficient and has a longer range than the B747-400 that are deployed for similar VVIP operations," the statement said.

The aircraft has state-of-the-art interiors with reduced noise levels, it added. Air India One is the call sign for the VVIP aircraft used by the President, Vice President and Prime Minister.

On the occasion of the inaugural flight of Air India One-B777, Kovind commended the pilots, crew members and the entire team of the Air India and the Indian Air Force for operating the state-of-the-art aircraft and facilitating VVIP movements within the country and on state visits abroad, the statement said.

These two aircraft were part of Air India's commercial fleet for a few months in 2018 before they were sent back to Boeing for retrofitting them for VVIP travel. The B777 planes will have state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).