Boeing targets battery problems
Boeing has said that its top priority for this year will be to fix the battery problem that has grounded its 787 Dreamliner, as the US manufacturer reported better than expected fourth-quarter earnings.
Boeing is reeling from the worldwide grounding of the 787, its newest and most sophisticated aircraft, because of safety concerns, just as it has regained its position as the world’s largest passenger jet maker from Airbus.
Regulators stopped 50 Dreamliners from flying after an All Nippon Airways 787 made an emergency landing on January 16th, when the crew smelled burning in the cabin and one of its lithium-ion batteries was found to be charred and badly damaged. Nine days earlier, a battery on a 787 operated by Japan Airlines caught fire.
The Dreamliner is the first aircraft that Boeing has used lithium-ion batteries on, in an effort to save weight. This equipment is now at the centre of regulatory investigations in the US and Japan that have so far not established a cause for the problems.
Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chief executive, said: “Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return the aeroplanes safely to service with our customers.”
He added that the company was focused on increasing production of its passenger jets, including the 787.
Boeing reported revenue of $22.3 billion for the last three months of 2012, up 14 per cent compared to the same time last year. Earnings per share in the fourth quarter reached $1.28, down 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, partly because of higher taxes. However, the earnings exceeded analysts’ expectations.
Boeing’s 2012 performance was driven by its commercial aircraft division. It delivered 601 jets to customers last year, compared to 477 in 2011. This performance enabled it to overtake Airbus, owned by EADS. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013