Air India may resume Dreamliner flights by April end

Published: 13th March 2013 06:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2013 06:45 PM   |  A+A-


With the US aviation regulator approving Boeing's plan to fix the battery-fire problem in the Dreamliner fleet, Air India today hoped to resume flights of this grounded aircraft by the later part of next month.

As Boeing informed airlines in seven countries, which have grounded all the 50 Boeing 787s since January, about the FAA approval, sources said Air India could start operating these planes by the last week of April after tests on the lithium ion battery packages are successfully carried out by Boeing.

A technical team from Boeing is expected to visit India soon to help resolving the problem, they said.

The American aircraft manufacturer has developed new battery kits for the Dreamliners, which were now being tested by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA would take 3-4 weeks to complete the tests and certify the kit.

Once the kits are certified, these would be supplied to the airlines in seven countries, including India, by Boeing for being fitted in their planes.

While it would take about a week for the new battery kit to be installed in each of the six Dreamliners which Air India has, the earliest time by which these planes would again be operational is April-end, the sources said.

The 50 Dreamliners, which have been delivered so far to airlines in India, Chile, Ethiopia, Japan, Poland, Qatar and the US, were grounded after two battery-fire incidents in January.

"Our top priority is the integrity of our products and the safety of the passengers and crews who fly on them," Boeing chairman Jim McNerney said, announcing FAA approval.

"We've improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and to isolate any that do," he said.

Design feature improvements for the battery include addition of new thermal and electrical insulation materials and other changes, Boeing said, adding that the enhanced production and testing processes include more stringent screening of battery cells prior to their assembly.

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