On April 5th, Boeing conducted a test flight for the mostly grounded 787 Dreamliner. Line number 86, a Boeing owned 787 built for LOT Polish Airlines, departed Paine Field (PAE) for its first and final certification test for the new battery system. The airplane took off at 10:39 am Pacific Time and landed 1 hours, 49 minutes later at 12:28 p.m.
The 787 Dreamliner has been grounded since January 16th due to issues with the lithium-ion batteries that power the APU, but Boeing has been authorized to conduct a few test flights by the FAA, since the grounding.
“Our top priority is the integrity of our products and the safety of the passengers and crews who fly on them,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. “Our team has been working around the clock to understand the issues and develop a solution based on extensive analysis and testing following the events that occurred in January. Today’s approval from the FAA is a critical and welcome milestone toward getting the fleet flying again and continuing to deliver on the promise of the 787,” he said.
The test crew reported no negative issues and the data will be analyzed and submitted to the FAA. According to Boeing, once they deliver the data they will, “Stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations.”
When asked why Boeing chose L/N 86 with LOT livery for their test flights, Marc Birtel with Boeing Communications explained to AirlineReporter.com, “The airplane had already flown its first Boeing flight earlier this year and was already in the production flow toward delivery before the battery events occurred. As a result, we selected this airplane because of where it was at in the delivery process.”
According to the Seattle Times, the FAA could authorize the batteries as early as mid-month, but it would take a few additional months for them to start carrying passengers. Each of the 787s will need to be retrofitted and crews and employees will need to be re-trained.
Flight Global stated that fix teams have already been dispatched out to Narita, Japan to start modifying the 18 Dreamliners that are on the ground there as soon as they are given authorization. Along with the other ANA and JAL 787’s that are scattered around at different airports across the country. It is believed that it will take about four to five days to retrofit each aircraft.
It is expected that the Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) (Japans version of the FAA), will follow the FAA’s decision to allow the Dreamliner to fly, whenever that might be.
UPDATE: Jaunted is reporting that United Airlines has the 787 back on their time schedule starting on May 31st. Also, Qatar is being a bit more optimistic and shooting for May 15th.
Brandon Farris and David Parker Brown contributed to this story.