Solution for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner
Safety upgrades to airplane’s battery systems could help flights to restart within weeks
Improvements to the Dreamliner 787’s battery could help the aircraft return to service. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Boeing said safety upgrades to the 787 Dreamliner's battery systems may allow commercial flights to restart within weeks, ending a two-month grounding of the fleet.
Changes include installation of a new enclosure for the battery, a focus of regulatory probes after catching fire on one aircraft and smoking on another, and adjustments to the charger, Boeing said in Tokyo today.
The device will also undergo more rigorous tests, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Ray Conner said.
The improvements will allow the resumption of service once the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators sign off, and Air India may fly its five 787s as soon as April.
Boeing would also be able to restart deliveries of the aircraft, for which it has a backlog of more than 800 jets with a catalog value of about $187 (€143) billion.
“It is reasonable to expect that we could be back up and going in weeks, not in months,” vice president and chief project engineer of the 787 program Mike Sinnett, told reporters in Tokyo.
“We understand the work to be done and we've got a fairly good notion of how long it will take, and if we miss, it will be by a little, not by a lot.”
The planemaker will begin the alterations to Air India's Dreamliners next week, the country's aviation regulator, Arun Mishra, said in Delhi.
Boeing climbed 0.2 per cent to $84.81 this morning, before the start of regular trading in New York.
Through yesterday, the shares had gained 8.9 per cent since January, the last trading day before the first battery incident, a fire in Boston.
The Chicago-based planemaker's proposed redesign of the lithium-ion battery system was cleared by US regulators this week.
Boeing will be allowed “limited test flights” with two 787s that will have prototype components of the new battery system, the FAA said on 12 March.