Airlift, was inspired by a true story of a prominent Indian businessman in Kuwait, Mathunny Mathews. Directed by Raja Krishna Menon, it shows Mathews leading an operation hailed as one of the largest civilian evacuations of about 1.7 lakh Indians stranded in Kuwait during the Gulf war of 1990. Mathunny Mathews aka Toyota Sunny (played by Akshay Kumar) played a pivotal role in airlifting them. This feat is also registered in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Back in August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Mathunny Mathews (Ranjit Katyal in the movie) converts his office into a base camp for Indians who were terrified of staying in the midst of a war zone. Ranjit traveled from Kuwait to Amman Airport, a 1400 kms drive by road. To accommodate and transport a huge number of people along with their luggage, Ranjit required a convoy of 10 Buses and vans and 15 cars. As the movie scene depicts, the convoy was led by Ranjit, with a 1990’s Cadillac, Old Eicher 1059, and followed by a fleet of Ashok Leyland ‘Falcons’ that caught our attention. With the help offered by the Indian Government at Amman Airport, Jordan, around 500 flights were deployed in this rescue operation in which Indian Air Force and Air India played a key role.

The brand ‘Falcon’ which was used in the movie is discontinued today in India as the new BSVI emission norms rolled out in April 2020. Known to operate at q low cost and provide good fuel economy, these buses score on passenger comfort too with inclusions like an armrest, and tilt recline of seats offered as standard features on the bus.The bus is equipped with rollover stability, breakable glass for accidents or emergency evacuation, a three-point seatbelt for all passengers and driver, a USB port for charging and air-conditioning offered as optional features. Under the hood, the powerhouse is based on the W06DTI six-cylinder engine, known to be a Euro3 or BSIII equivalent, heavy-duty engine. The Falcon achieved higher fuel efficiency by using a Multi-Point Fuel Injection (MPFI) system and delivers 135 kW (181 hp) @ 2400 rpm with the maximum torque of 60 kgm @ 1600 rpm. The engine is mated to a ZF, five-speed synchromesh type gearbox. The bus is equipped with semi-elliptic laminated multi-leaf suspension with a high degree of shock absorption ability for comfort. The brakes used in the bus are pneumatic diaphragm operated with a dual-line arrangement. It has flick valve operated pneumatic hand brake on rear wheels. The Falcon fleet led the rescue mission from the front.

Also read Ashok Leyland delivers light bullet proof vehicles to Indian air- force

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