China has approved Boeing Co.‘s (NYSE:BA) 787 jets for commercial use, which will help the country update its older planes and expand its fleet to meet growing demand for air traffic.
Chinese airlines including Hainan Airlines Co. and its rival China Southern Airline Co. ordered ten 787′s each. China Southern, based in Guangzhou, has the country’s biggest aircraft fleet, and is expected to get the first delivery of the Dreamliner jet. The airline had expected to receive orders for the jet last year, before the 787 faced production delays. Chinese authorities were waiting for production issues to be solved before granting the craft an airworthiness certificate.
Boeing faced difficulties with its new jet when issues with overheating lithium ion batteries caused the introduction of the craft to be delayed three more months after it was already delivered three years behind schedule due to struggles with suppliers and new materials. Ray Conner, chief of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, said that 90 percent of the retrofitting for the batteries has been completed and work is scheduled to be finished next week.
Boeing Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney is confident the battery issue has been resolved, saying, “With the 787 fleet back in flight and new deliveries under way, our full focus returns to our ongoing commercial airplane priorities.”
The 787 was grounded when batteries in jets owned by ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co Ltd. overheated. Japanese and American investigators haven’t figured out what caused the batteries to overheat, but the craft has been approved for flight in the U.S. United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) currently has a flight of six of the Dreamliners, and they flew a 787 for the first time in four months on Monday.
Now that difficulties with the 787 seem to be solved, Boeing will turn its focus to the production of the 777X upgrade to their twin-aisle 777 jet.