JAPAN’S GOVERNMENT: Permission to resume Boeing 787 may come Thursday – 4-traders (press release)
Japan’s Civil Aviation Authority said final permission to resume Boeing Co’s grounded Dreamliner flights may come as early as Thursday. Boeing engineers on Monday began installing reinforced lithium-ion battery systems on the Boeing 787 jets in Japan, starting with launch customer All Nippon Airways. That should make the first 787 ready to restart flights in about a week.
Additionally, ANA plans 100 to 200 test flights in May before taking final decisions for carrying passengers:
Teams of Boeing engineers are working on the ANA jets at four airports in Japan, including Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita hubs, Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman for the carrier said. The Dreamliners have been parked since regulators in the United States and elsewhere ordered all 50 planes out of the skies in mid-January after batteries on two of them overheated. ANA is the world’s biggest operator of the carbon-composite aircraft with 17 of the planes. After ANA, the biggest 787 operator is local rival Japan Airlines Co with seven jets, followed by United Continental Holdings’ United Airlines and Air India AIN.UL with six each. ANA plans about 100 to 200 round trip test flights in May of its repaired aircraft before carrying passengers again from June, sources knowledgeable about ANA’s operations told Reuters last week. The flights will check the safety of the aircraft, and allow ANA’s 180 Dreamliner pilots to get accustomed to flying it again and renew their licenses after more than a three-month break. ANA has not said how much the 787’s grounding has cost it to date, though it has said it lost about $900,000 in revenue per plane in the last two weeks of January. The grounding has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million.
On the other hand, other airliners are waiting to take deliveries of 787 Dreamliner airplanes:
The fleet has been grounded for months after being beleaguered by technical problems but Boeing has announced that its ultra-green Dreamliner plane could finally be in operation in the UK “within weeks”. Holiday airline Thomson had hoped to operate the ultra-green Boeing 787 Dreamliner from May, while next month would also have seen British Airways take delivery of the first of 24 Dreamliners. But earlier this year battery smoke emanating from two Dreamliner planes operated by Japanese carriers led to a grounding of the world’s 787 fleet and a halt to all deliveries. Now, American aviation authority the FAA has approved the battery improvement work done by Boeing and the Seattle-based company is modifying its 787s in preparation for a return to service. At a briefing in London yesterday, Boeing’s 787 programme vice president and general manager Larry Loftis said: “It is possible we may never know the root cause (of the battery failure).” But he added that Boeing was confident the improvement work would ensure the safety of the aircraft.
More importantly, FAA has the final word on the 787 battery adventure:
The FAA, which approved the battery design last week, has said that it will issue a final directive on the Dreamliner this week. Other international regulators are likely to follow. but it may still be a couple of weeks before flights resume. The plane is the first in the world to use the lithium-ion batteries, which are lighter, hold more power and recharge more quickly. But after incidents in which some of the batteries emitted smoke, all of the 50 Boeing 787 planes in service were grounded in mid-January. The problems sparked a battery fire on a parked JAL 787 at Boston’s Logan International Airport and another incident in which battery smoke forced an emergency landing of an ANA 787 in Japan. The grounding has cost Boeing an estimated $600m (£393m). Japanese carrier ANA lost some 1.4bn yen ($15m; £9.5m) in revenue through January’s disruption alone.
Finally, the global aviation community is waiting for positive developments in the Boeing 787 story, seeing the innovative aircraft to take the skies again…