Boeing Co has begun repairs on the 787 Dreamliner to fix a battery fault that grounded all 787s in operation with various airlines for three months as the company began talks with airlines to resume deliveries and meet a full-year production target.
ANA Holdings Inc, the parent company of All Nippon Airways which is the biggest 787 operator, started repairs this morning at four airports around Japan. Japan Airlines Co has also started fixing the batteries, according to reports.
The two Japanese carriers account for almost half of the 49 Dreamliners in service. Air India has seven of these grounded planes.
The Dreamliner won US approval to return to service with a redesigned lithium-ion battery.
But how quickly the 787 resumes passenger flights is likely to vary significantly among airlines, depending on rulings by national regulators and carrier decisions about test flights and pilot training.
Friday's decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration to approve battery fixes on Boeing's latest jet doesn't allow immediate return to commercial service, as the Wall Street Journal points out.
The Dreamliners were grounded worldwide on 16 January after lithium-ion batteries on two separate planes overheated and melted, causing flights to be cancelled and cutting revenue for the operators (See: Nightmare for Boeing as Dreamliners grounded).
Boeing has dispatched about 300 personnel on 10 teams to airlines to install the fix over five days while preparing to hand over another batch of 787s.
''We are starting to have detailed conversations with all of our customers about delivery timing,'' Larry Loftis, Boeing 787 vice president and general manager, told journalists in London. ''We don't have specific dates right now.''
Deliveries will resume ''within weeks,'' Loftis said. Production of 787s, which had reached five aircraft a month when the fleet was grounded in January, is now reaching seven. Loftis said there is no reason why production targets for this year will not be met.
The cost of the modification is ''fairly small,'' Loftis said, while declining to specify what the total cost of the grounding will be. Boeing, the world's largest aircraft maker, reports first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.
ANA and JAL are waiting for approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration and Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau before they can restart flights. ANA expects to complete repairs on its 787s next month.
''Pilots will be able to fly the planes soon after studying the changes to the manual,'' said Toshikazu Nagasawa, a director at the Air Line Pilots' Association of Japan, which has about 4,500 members. ''The biggest problem will be getting passengers to fly on the planes.''