ANA and JAL Dreamliners getting ready to fly again

29 Apr 2013

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is working with five Boeing support teams to retrofit new systems on its 17 Dreamliner aircraft, and hopes to have all its B787s in the air by May. Japan Airlines (JAL) has also announced that it is hoping to have its B787s operational by June.

This follows Japan Civil Aviation Bureau giving the go-ahead for the grounded B787s to fly following the US Federal Aviation Administration's formal directive lifting the ban on the aircraft on Thursday (see story here).

The announcement effectively ended the three-month grounding of the Dreamliner that began in mid-January due to a series of incidents involving the faulty lithium-ion battery system used on the aircraft (see story).

ANA will replace existing batteries with new ones, change to new battery chargers and install new battery containment boxes and venting systems. These improvements will take one week per aircraft to implement, with all 17 aircraft scheduled to have the new system installed by the end of May.

ANA is also undertaking "proving flights" for each retrofitted aircraft, with the first completed on Sunday. No battery-related issues occured during that test flight.

"ANA plans to announce a schedule for resumption of commercial flights using the 787 aircraft once all necessary preparations are completed, and a review of seasonal flight schedules and other issues has been conducted," a spokesperson for the Japanese carrier said.

JAL, meanwhile, is also undertaking similar procedures on its B787 fleet, "with the aim to resume in June 2013 after completely confirming the safety and reliability of the aircraft, including the proper installation of the battery improvements," according to a spokesperson of the airline, who added that the detailed schedule of return to service is being adjusted and will be announced shortly.

On Saturday, Ethiopian Airlines became the world's first carrier to resume flying the Dreamliner since the grounding with a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. According to Reuters, United Airlines plans to resume 787 services on May 31.

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Alex Andersson 

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