Japan and others cautious on 787s

March 2, 2013 at 12:53 PM
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CHICAGO, March 2 (UPI) -- A Japanese official said U.S. planemaker Boeing had taken a first step in solving problems that prompted the grounding of the new 87 Dreamliner aircraft.

Boeing's Chief Executive Officer for commercial aircraft Raymond Conner had flown to Japan to convince officials Boeing had developed a credible solution to overheating lithium-ion batteries which was the cause of one fire and one outbreak of smoke on two different planes.

Both incidents occurred in early January. Regulators soon after that ordered the new jets grounded until a cause of the problem was found and a solution put in place.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta said finding a solution would "take some time," although he called Boeing's immediate plans to fix the problem a "starting point."

Industry observers are now looking for signs of how much Boeing will compensate owners of the 50 787 Dreamliners that have been sold and are now stuck on the ground.

The company has orders for 800 Dreamliners and that number may be affected in time, as well, with the odds of an order cancellation increasing for each day the Dreamliners remain out of service.

Besides All Nippon Airways, Dreamliners have been purchased by Japan Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, LAN Airlines of Chile, United Airlines and Qatar Airways, the Times said

All Nippon alone has cancelled over 3,600 Dreamliner flights and the problem is now rippling through the industry.

United Airlines, for example, has postponed launching a new route because it is using the extra planes in its fleet to replace grounded Dreamliners. Other airlines report that pilots who were trained to fly the 787 Dreamliner are sitting at home waiting to be put back in rotation.

A solution, meanwhile, could be months away.

"Once we approve a plan, then we have to go through the process of actually implementing the plan, which would involve a great deal of testing, a great deal of further analysis and re-engineering before those planes will be flying again," said Michael Huerta, head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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