The FAA told Congress that Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) 787 Dreamliner could start flying commercial flights again within a week. The regulatory agency announced on Friday that this coming week it will lift the three month grounding order and that the planes will be ready for airline service once the new battery systems the FAA approved are installed, according to Fox News. Boeing has teams around the world that are ready to install the new lithium-ion battery systems, but the process will take around five days once it starts.
There are only six 787 Dreamliners in service in the United States–all flown by United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) — but the FAA’s actions should help get the Dreamliner back in the air in other countries as well. Boeing’s largest 787 customer — All Nippon Airways (ANA) — plans to fly 100 to 200 test flights in May with the new battery systems installed before it will allow the planes to carry passengers again. According to Fox Business, ANA will not resume normal, scheduled flights with the 787 until sometime in June, provided the battery fix tests out. ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura noted that the airline employs 180 pilots to fly the Dreamliner but said, “We haven’t come up with a schedule yet.”
The grounding of the 787 Dreamliner has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million. ANA has said that each grounded Dreamliner cost the company $868,300 in revenue in the last two weeks of January. The ban on passenger flights of the plane has stretched from January to nearly the end of April. The FAA’s Japanese counterpart–the Civil Aviation Bureau–said it could start allowing 787 flights to resume as early as April 25th.
While ANA has a fleet of 787s and wants to take their return to normal operations slowly, UA wants to get its six 787s back in the air quickly. The company has already scheduled domestic 787 flights for May 31st. UA spokeswoman Christen David said that its planned Denver to Tokyo flights are still set to begin June 10th but that obviously the battery fix has to be installed first. She went on to say, “We are mapping out a return-to-service plan, and we look forward to getting our 787s back in the air.”
The grounding of all of Boeing’s delivered 787 Dreamliners put the fate of the 840 Dreamliners that the company has orders for into question. No 787s were delivered to airlines during the grounding, but Boeing has said they will start again “in the weeks ahead.” The battery fix will be installed on new 787s at the factory before they are delivered to airlines. As for Boeing’s financial outlook, the company says the battery problems in its new airliner “will have no significant impact” on its financial guidance for the year. Boeing still expects to hit its target and deliver at least 60 787s this year.
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