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Boeing 787: A Question Of Long-Distance Flights..?

The possibility of a temporary ban on some of Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s long-distance oceanic flights could be another serious blow for the commercial promotion of the aircraft, as its global fleet is still grounded due to its battery incidents:

Boeing 787 faces new risk: limits on extended range: sources – Reuters

As Boeing works to regain permission for its 787 Dreamliner to resume flights, the company faces what could be a costly new challenge: a temporary ban on some of the long-distance, trans-ocean journeys that the jet was intended to fly. Aviation experts and government officials say the Federal Aviation Administration may shorten the permitted flying time of the Boeing 787 on certain routes when it approves a revamped battery system. The plane was grounded worldwide two months ago after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two separate aircraft. Losing extended operations, or ETOPS, would deal a blow to Boeing and its airline customers by limiting use of the fuel-saving jet, designed to lower costs on long-distance routes that don’t require the capacity of the larger Boeing 777. Such a loss could even lead to cancellation of some routes.”If the FAA approves (only) over-land operations it would be a very damaging blow to the 787 program,” said Scott Hamilton, an aviation analyst with Leeham Co in Seattle. ”Depending on how long that restriction remains in place, it would completely undermine the business case for the airplane, which was to be able to do these long, thin intercontinental routes” over water, he said.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Long Distance 1

On the other hand, Boeing has completed its first round of  Boeing 787 flight tests and assures that every is going according to its flight testing schedule:

Boeing completes first 787 Dreamliner test flight |

Boeing has completed the first successful tests of its troubled Dreamliner 787 since the jet was grounded following battery fires. The company said the tests went “according to plan”, and Boeing is now planning a second test to gather data for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has to give its approval before the 787 is allowed to fly commercially again. Boeing had delivered just 50 of the jets when lithium-ion batteries on two of the planes caught fire. The two incidents, one in the US another in Japan, triggered a global grounding for the Boeing 787. Investigators in Japan and the US are now looking into what went wrong and have so far concentrated on the planes’ battery systems. It is the first time that lightweight lithium-ion batteries have been used so extensively on a large passenger jet.

More importantly, Boeing estimates that its aircraft is going to meet the skies again in the coming weeks:

Boeing sees 787 airborne in weeks with fortified battery – Reuters

Boeing Co said its 787 Dreamliner jets could be airborne within weeks with a fortified power pack that would eliminate the risk of fire, confident the U.S. aviation authority would approve the redesigned battery soon. Regulators grounded all 50 of the carbon-composite Dreamliners in use byairlines worldwide in January after a battery caught fire on a Japan Airlines Co Ltd 787 jet at Boston’s Logan airport and a battery melted on an All Nippon Airways Co Ltd flight in Japan. Boeing, which has Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to test its new battery for certification, said Friday it will encase the redesigned power pack in a steel box, pack it with added insulation, heat-resistant material and spacers, drill drain holes to remove moisture, and vent any gases from overheating directly to the atmosphere outside the aircraft.

Finally, the successful completion of the battery testing, should be the immediate priority for Boeing. On the other hand, the possibility for FAA to impose new limits on aircraft’s extended range is directly related to the final solution of Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s battery problem.

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