Category Archives: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Grounding

787 Program Update: Delivery and Dispatch Reliability Finally Catching Up with Demand

By Chris Sloan in Everett and Roberto Leiro / Photos by Chris Sloan unless otherwise noted / Published: June 10, 2015

SEATTLE — While the Boeing 787-8 has been a market changer in the industry, its building and assembly process have been a clear example on how globalization and novel manufacturing processes were matched to bring together one of the most advanced production lines in the world. However, it has not been an easy task. From quality control issues to design flaws and labor strife, the entry into service (EIS) of the Dreamliner has been traumatic for Boeing. Needless to say, it has also been an opportunity for the company to implement changes that not only will benefit the 787’s output, but also all its production lines.

RELATED: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Continuously Updated Grounding Timeline

Larry Loftis, Vice President and General Manager 787 Program briefs reporters during Boeing Media Days 2015

Larry Loftis, Vice President and General Manager of the 787 Program briefs reporters.

During the recent Boeing Media days ahead of the 51st Le Bourget Air Show in Paris, Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager on the 787 program, provided insights on the current Dreamliner program status. He also offered a close look at the changes implemented in the existing production lines at Everett, Washington, and Charleston, South Carolina.




The Dreamliner is reaching its maturity

Since its EIS, the 787 has logged more than 257,000 flights and 568 million revenue miles, transported 48 million passengers and operated more than 500 flights a day for 31 airline customers thus far. On average, Dreamliners fly 12 hours a day and it is estimated that 2.1 billion pounds of fuel have been saved so far, together with a dispatch reliability finally reaching more than 99 percent after well-publicized teething pains.

Slide courtesy: Boeing

Slide courtesy: Boeing

Since its inaugural flight, 55 new city-pairs have been introduced on the 787, routes that were not economically feasible before, such as Tokyo to Denver and San Jose. Loftis assured that the advantage of the 787-8 is allowing airlines to fly new city-pairs and long, thin routes. Once the market matures, operators can upgauge to the 787-9, -10 or 777.

Slide courtesy: Boeing

Slide courtesy: Boeing

“I am pleased with where the value stream is with the 787,” commented Loftis. Currently, the 787 has reached a production of 10 aircraft per month — the highest wide-body production rate in history — even as it closes the temporary surge line in Everett. Between Everett and Charleston, the company expects to speed up the production to 12 aircraft per month in 2016 and 14 aircraft rolling out every month by the end of the decade.

“Moving to this high rate so quickly has put a lot of strain on our supply chain. This is the fastest production rate increase for a wide-body aircraft in history. As an example, the 777 program took 18 years to reach 8.2 aircraft per month,” Loftis said. “The production build in the 787 final assembly line (FAL) is quickening from 30 days to 24 days. All in all, this is considered quite a feat for an aircraft composed of 2.3 million parts.”

Loftis highlighted that at 12 airplanes per month, the cash flow of the program will turn positive by the end of 2015 in terms of profitability per unit cost. For the 787-9, Boeing claims there’s a 25 percent improvement in unit costs on current planes from first to the 20th . The even more mature 787-8 program is enjoying a 30 percent reduction in cost over first 190 planes. The 787-9’s production rate continues to increase.

The 787-9’s production rate continues to increase. As of May 31, 54 787s have been delivered in 2015. Of these, 27 correspond to the -9 variant, accounting for half of the deliveries of the Dreamliner.

According to Loftis, “the 787-9 will be more than half of deliveries in 2016. We will see a strong market for the 787-8, but modest upscaling so 787-9 and -10 will be larger parts of our production.” Loftis also stated that “the 787-9 production ramp-up went very well. The entry into service occurred on time and we learned additional lessons.” Boeing continues to see new demand for the 787 in 2015, with 34 new orders and some new customers including a hard-fought campaign for Air Tahiti Nui to replace its A340 fleet.

RELATED: Boeing Wins Battle over Airbus for Air Tahiti Nui with Dreamliner Order

A never-ending synergy between production lines

Brett Vandeputte, director of production operations for the 787 program, exposed some interesting facts and updates of the Dreamliner production program. He described it as a never-ending synergy between Everett and Charleston, always having in mind the implementation of the best practices developed at both production sites. Currently, 600 people work on the 787 line, which has an output of 10 assembled aircraft per month between the Everett main and surge lines.

Currently, Charleston is moving to produce four aircraft per month and five per month by 2016 as it moves to a single wing-and-body function for both -9 and upcoming -10—just like the 777 production line. The Everett lines are currently implementing this function as well. In reference to the 787-10, Loftis reaffirmed that Charleston will be the only production site, dismissing rumors in the industry about a potential FAL in Everett. “We don’t have any plans to do 787-10 FAL in Everett. The main body system is too long to get into our Dreamlifters, and the logistics to get to Everett didn’t make sense to us.”

The first 787-10 will enter in production by the end of 2016, and will roll out in 2018. Everett has a production flow average of 26 days per aircraft. From position 0 load to final position 4 load out, a 787 spends approximately four days per position, although there are intervening days. Everett will have the 787 surge line deactivated at the end of the year, in lieu for the coming 777X production line, so flow time will be shorter. Boeing envisions a transition from the current pulse line to a moving line ala the 777 “within a few years.” The implementation of these practices has been successful for the company: the amount of rework has been reduced by over 30 percent in the first 190 aircraft produced, and the unit costs have also improved in the same number as well.

The implementation of these practices has been successful for the company: the amount of rework has been reduced by over 30 percent in the first 190 aircraft produced, and the unit costs have also improved in the same number as well. Also the number of pre-customer B-1/ B-2 test flights have been reduced drastically, from five-six flights before over the two flights required to just three presently. Also, the optimization of the production lines has allowed Boeing to redeploy extra employees to other programs and fewer people will be needed in the 787 program going forward.

Coping with suppliers

However, this production rate increase has not been flawless. Recent reports about late delivery of interior parts attributed to production issues from seat manufacturers were confirmed by Loftis. “The late delivery of interior parts, particularly seats has affected our deliveries. There has been extra staffing held to allow for late parts delivery,” he said.

The company is currently spending a lot of time with seat manufacturers to get their delivery back on track. With a growing back order of 823 aircraft from more than 60 customers worldwide and a forthcoming variant of the Dreamliner–the 787-10,  Boeing has many challenges ahead, but also unique opportunities from which they will not only gather experience and knowledge, but also much-needed profits.

Slide courtesy: Boeing

Slide courtesy: Boeing


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First American Airlines 787 Delivery Is Delayed

By Jack Harty / Published December 11, 2014

American 787 / JDL / Airways News

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787. Image Courtesy of JDL Multimedia

American Airlines was due to take delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner before the end of 2014, with plans to enter into revenue service early next year on select domestic flights. However, a spokesperson for the carrier confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that the delivery date has slipped to the first quarter of 2015.

It’s difficult when a carrier plans to enter a brand new aircraft into its fleet, and it is quite common for there to be delivery delays. In American’s case, a spokesperson for the company explained to the Dallas Morning News that American’s 787s have new seats that need to be approved by the FAA before flying any passengers. The spokesperson went on to tell the Dallas Morning News‘ aviation reporter Terry Maxon that the seats have a brand new concept that will be unique to the 787 product which complicates things.

Read all of American’s comments in the Dallas Morning News story here

When United took delivery of its second 787 in late 2012, the carrier faced delays in the delivery due to unknown reasons, and unfortunately, it did not arrive on-time to fly some of the inaugural flights United planned to operate on the big inaugural day.

And on December 10, Airbus announced a delay in the delivery of Qatar Airways’ first A350 XWB. The carrier was supposed to take delivery of the aircraft on December 13, but that event has been indefinitely delayed.

EXTRA: First Airbus A350-900 XWB Delivery Delayed Until Further Notice

Meanwhile, American has been very quiet about its plans for the 787. So far, it has not released a seat map or the initial routes for the aircraft. The airline though is expected to fly the aircraft initially on domestic routes between hubs where the plane will initially operate from thus DFW, ORD, and LAX are thought to be the early candidates with long-term plans sending AA’s Dreamliners to new developing Asian routes such as Tokyo Haneda. The carrier has a mix of 42 787-8s and 787-9s on order.

EXTRA: American Airlines’ First 787 Makes First Appearance


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Virgin Atlantic to Launch First Dreamliner Flight on Boston-London Route

By Benét J. Wilson / Published October 28th, 2014

The first Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The first Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Virgin Atlantic will launch its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight tonight at 11:10 p.m., from Boston Logan International Airport to London Heathrow, with six weekly flights. The carrier will continue to roll out the 787s on the East Coast of the United States before the type is placed on longer-haul routes.

To commemorate the delivery of the first 787, the carrier flew from London to Atlanta October 24 aboard Birthday Girl, named in honor of Virgin Atlantic’s 30th anniversary. Using the WiFi onboard, it also live-streamed the first DJ gig over the Atlantic by UK DJ groups Rudimental and Gorgon City.

EXTRA: Virgin Atlantic Welcomes the 787-9 in Atlanta

The 787's Upper Class cabin. Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

The 787’s Upper Class cabin. Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Following a first week of flying between London Heathrow and Boston, Virgin Atlantic’s 787 will operate several flights around the UK each day to complete its training schedule. “Redeploying aircraft from commercial fights to training and development flights is absolutely normal when bringing a new aircraft into service,” said a company spokeswoman. The route will be flown with an Airbus A340-600 during training, according to Business Traveller.

After the Boston launch, Virgin Atlantic will begin service to London on key East Coast markets including Washington, D.C., Newark and JFK, all within the next five months. Chief Executive Craig Kreeger said the 787-9 Dreamliner will represent more than half of the Virgin America fleet by 2018.

Images courtesy of Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airways News 


ANALYSIS: Virgin Atlantic Restructures Network to Focus On Delta Relationship

Analysis: DOT Approves Delta & Virgin Atlantic North Atlantic Joint Venture

Virgin Atlantic To Fly First 787-9 This October

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REVIEW: Al Jazeera’s 787 Program Misses the Mark

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 12th, 2014

A United Boeing 787-8 during its grounding: Image Credit - Jack Harty / Airways News

A United Boeing 787-8 during its grounding: Image Credit – Jack Harty / Airways News

Earlier this week, Al Jazeera English released an investigative report entitled: Al Jazeera Investigates – Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787.  The report is a 48-minute news documentary on the divisive Boeing 787 Dreamliner program, blending isolated anecdotal evidence with a recap of the troubled history of the airplane to heavily imply that the 787 may be unsafe. However, despite its hype, Al-Jazeera’s report falls substantially short on substance, too often falling into a slanted and biased presentation that leaves the piece wanting for objectivity and substance.

The report has several moments of lucidity, especially when recapping the 787’s challenges. The cultural issues generated by Boeing’s merger with McDonnell Douglas, as well as its shift in management philosophy towards generating shareholder value are well known, though one may disagree on whether these changes were beneficial for the company. The 787’s volatile path to entry-into-service (EIS), battery troubles, and quality control issues at Charleston are also well known. In particular, the quality control of Charleston 787s is well known within the industry to be less than the standard of Everett, and Charleston 787s are frequently flown to Everett for finishing and eliminating QC issues. But what part of that is news? Each of those issues has been reported, analyzed, dissected, and re-packaged ad-nauseum in almost every medium fathomable over the past seven years. The 16-minute stretch discussing these challenges is the most accurate portion of the program, but it breaks no new ground.

Perhaps the only substantive portion of Al Jazeera’s program that is new or novel is the allegations of drug use at Boeing’s plant in Charleston. Boeing can be expected to investigate these allegations seriously, but it is hardly surprising. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find any major industrial plant of that size where drug use is not present; including Boeing’s Everett plant.

What then of the anonymous conversations with former employees, which appear to be the foundation of Al Jazeera’s unsafe implication (while journalists Jon Ostrower and Dominic Gates, as well as analyst Richard Aboulafia do appear in the program, they do so during the factual 16-minute stretch referenced above)? To reject their claims out of hand because they are “disgruntled” former employees would be improper, but Al-Jazeera’s presentation and packaging does no favors to the apparent credibility of their claims. The (mis)use of the former employee in Mississippi is, as Scott Hamilton put it, gratuitous, while the reading of memos out of context, anonymous interviews, and tales of impending doom as a result of changing engineering policies fall several degrees short of providing conclusive proof.

Indeed what is Boeing’s incentive to deliver an unsafe airplane to consumers? Or an airline’s incentive to take delivery of an aircraft that it thinks or knows is unsafe? In Boeing’s case, the potential liability expenses are massive, let alone the fact that the 787-product line, and Boeing as a company would likely be decimated if the safety issues came to light. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and (arguably) McDonnell Douglas itself, were irrevocably harmed by several high profile crashes in the 1970s and 1980s. If the 787 program goes down because of safety problems, then Boeing goes down with it. And on the airline side, the case of Malaysia Airlines after flights 370 and 17 provides ample evidence as to the consequences of accepting an unsafe aircraft. None of this to say that the Boeing 787 is a perfect aircraft (it isn’t), or that the battery problem wasn’t a safety issue (it was). But poor dispatch reliability and an already fixed problem with lithium-ion batteries do not make the 787 unsafe at present.

But beyond the un-satisfying nature of the safety “concerns,” there are numerous instances of bias in the program that call into question its veracity as an “investigative report.” To highlight just a few

  • The documentary calls profits “Wall Street Returns” – in an aim to characterize profitability as morally suspect
  • Jim McNerney’s pension is juxtaposed against the fight to trim machinist (union) pensions. However, no mention is made of the fact that just a few months later, Boeing froze pensions for non-union employees including management.
  • The piece implies that workers in Charleston are less qualified and skillful than those at Everett, demonizes said workers for not belonging to a union, further attempts to imply their unsuitability by making allegations of drug use (which is almost certainly present in Everett), and characterizes Boeing’s search for a viable hedge against work stoppages (the second production line) as “auctioning off” a production line to “the highest bidder.”

Whether or not there is merit to some of these claims, they are presented in a slanted manner that severely calls into question the supposed objectivity of Al Jazeera’s report. Adding to the program’s questionable veracity is the sensationalistic manner in which several aspects of its production were handled.  The Showtime movie–esque background music has no place in objective news documentaries, and the juxtaposition of Boeing’s quarterly earnings call against ominous sounds of thunder and lightning was almost laughable in its demagoguery. Moreover, it is clear that current 787 program head Larry Loftis was blindsided by his “interview” with Al Jazeera, and given no advance notice of its topic. Boeing was not given a chance to comment on the specific allegations made by several program participants, and while the shock value of springing the program’s focus on Mr. Loftis in the moment might have played well with the narrative that Al Jazeera aimed to craft, it is also indicative of the poor journalistic practices Al Jazeera resorted to in preparing its otherwise mediocre program. Ultimately, Al Jazeera’s “investigative report” is anything but… It tells us nothing new about the Boeing 787,  and fails to provide compelling evidence for the safety problems that it heavily implies.

You can watch the Al Jazeera program here:

You can read Boeing’s response to the program here:


This article was originally published at

All views are those of the author exclusively, and do not necessarily represent the view of Airways News.

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ANA Receives Its First 787-9

By Jack Harty / Published July 29, 2014

KBFI-4_9_14-7ANA has received its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The airline will begin flying the jet on domestic flights next month, and it will be deployed on international routes in April 2015.

Before paying passengers will fly on the 787-9, ANA will be operating a special commemorative flight “Dreamliner” with American and Japanese elementary school children in Japan on-board. The aircraft will fly over Mount Fuji, after departing from Haneda. Additionally, the TOMODACHI logo will be displayed on the aircraft to support the initiative to strengthen Japanese-US ties.

“The 787 Dreamliner is a key element in our growth strategy and we are proud to be the first airline to fly both models of the 787 family,” said Osamu Shinobe, ANA president and CEO. “The new 787-9 will build on the exceptional efficiency of the 787-8 and will allow us to meet growing demand that is anticipated ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Our customers have expressed their pleasure with the comfort of the 787’s innovative cabin features and we are excited to introduce the new 787 variant into our fleet.”

“This milestone delivery adds yet another chapter in our long and successful relationship with ANA,” said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “ANA continues to demonstrate the market-leading efficiency and comfort of the 787 family.”

The first 787-9 will arrive with domestic route specifications with 395 seats; 60 more than the 787-8.

Currently, ANA has 28 787s in its fleet, and in a press release last week, the carrier said that “The fuel savings achieved from the 787 aircraft already in service are sufficient to operate 500 round trips from Tokyo to Frankfurt and are reducing CO2 emissions by 150,000 tons a year. When all 80 Dreamliners are in operation, the CO2 reduction will be 450,000 tons, with enough fuel saved to operate 1,400 round trips to Frankfurt.”

Two weeks ago, Air New Zealand became the world’s first airline to take delivery of the new 787-9.

United will take delivery of its first 787-9 next month, and the carrier plans to begin flying it in September. Virgin Atlantic will fly its first 787-9 flight at the end of the October, and Etihad will fly its first 787-9 flight in December.


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Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

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Boeing Celebrates Delivery of First 787-9 Dreamliner to ANZ

By Jack Harty & Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren; Reporting by Isaac Alexander
Photos by Isaac Alexandar / Published July 9, 2014

photo1EVERETT, WA: Boeing and Air New Zealand celebrated the first 787-9 Dreamliner delivery on Wednesday.

The airplane is expected to fly away to Air New Zealand’s Auckland headquarters tomorrow, on Thursday, following a number of familiarization flights around the Western US in the past week. It is expected to begin flying between Auckland and Sydney before moving to Auckland to Perth on October 15. It will begin flying regional international routes to Asia before beginning service to Vancouver in two years.

The airplane is outfitted with eighteen Business Premier seats, twenty-one premium economy, and 302 regular economy seats, including fourteen rows with its Skycouch quasi-lie-flat product. The airplane will offer passengers a new, Panasonic based in flight entertainment, though no WiFi will be on board for now. It added that the airplane has KA-Band connectivity hardware built in to allow for the option down the road.

photo14 photo15 photo4 photo12

The company has ten of the airplanes on order.

“We are proud to be the launch customer for the 787-9,” said Air New Zealand Chief Financial Officer Rob McDonald. “We believe it will be a game-changer for Air New Zealand, with increased levels of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. We look forward to inviting our customers on board to experience the aircraft and all of its benefits for themselves.”

“This delivery is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our employees, suppliers and Air New Zealand,” said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Air New Zealand was a perfect partner for us in developing the 787-9, given its innovative spirit, unique mission requirements and geography. The 787-9, combined with Air New Zealand’s exceptional onboard service, will set them apart from the competition by providing an unrivaled flying experience.”

photo9Crucially, the certification also includes ETOPS up to 330 minutes, clearing a hurdle right out of the gate that the 787-8 struggled with for years. In fact the entire final assembly and flight test programs remained remarkably problem free, a nod to what many hope is the end of Boeing’s Dreamliner program troubles.

The 787-9’s fuselage is twenty feet longer than the original 787-8. The stretch allows the aircraft carry forty more passengers. Plus, the 787-9 can fly an additional 450 nautical miles.

Like the 787-8, the 787-9 offers passengers larger windows, larger stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

So far, 26 customers have ordered a total of 409 787-9 aircraft. The orders for the 787-9 make up 40% of the total 787 orders.

As far as other carriers, United expects to take delivery of its first 787-9 in August. It plans to fly the airplane between Los Angeles and Houston starting September 20.

ANA is expected to take delivery of its first 787-9 this summer as well. No plans have been announced for first routes.

Related Stories:

Jack Harty contributed to this story from LA.
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren contributed to this story from Toronto.
Cover photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

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United Hits One Year Of 787 Operations

By Jack Harty, Senior Correspondent and Director of Social Media / Published November 5, 2013

198-united-787-inaugural-back-at-houston-4_23779It has officially been one year since United flew their inaugural Boeing 787 Dreamliner on an early morning flight from Houston to Chicago. Since that day, thousands of people have had the opportunity to fly on the airlines’ Dreamliners between the airlines’ domestic hubs and to cities as far away as Lagos, Nigeria or Tokyo, Japan. The airplanes have received a lot of praise from customers and employees, but it has not been the smoothest road.

The Boeing 787 entered into service several years behind schedule, and during the first year of operations there were several technical issues that have resulted in long delays or cancelled flights. Worst of all, the FAA grounded the Dreamliner fleet earlier this year after two battery fires occurred on aircraft operated by ANA and JAL. However, United has been able to open new routes that would not be possible without their Dreamliners.

A model of a Continental 787. The carrier never received one before merging with United. Image by InSapphoWeTrust, Creative Commons

A model of a Continental 787. The carrier never received one before merging with United. Image by InSapphoWeTrust, Creative Commons

The story of United’s Dreamliners begins in late 2004, when Continental Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to place an order for ten 7E7 aircraft on December 29. Gordon Bethune, the Chief Executive Officer of Continental at the time, said the order was “an important part of [Continental’s] growth strategy.” Their order for the 7E7 came eight months after Bethune said, “we‘re ready to order, but we’re just not ready to pay.” However, just one week into the 2005, there was fear that Continental would cancel their orders when it was projected that they would lose hundreds of millions in 2005 if they did not get $500 million in wage and benefit cuts by the end of the month. In the end, Continental did not have to cancel their order, and by 2007, the airline placed orders for fifteen more 787s. Originally the airline was expecting their first 787 to join the fleet in 2008, but after several technical delays from Boeing, the expected delivery year was continuously pushed back.

Continental Airlines announced initial 787 plans in the summer of 2009. They would begin service from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand on November 16, 2011, going on a limb to announce a schedule for the new flights that was subject to government approval. At the time, it was expected that the first 787 would arrive in August 2011.

EXTRA: Via Airchive, UA 787 First Airline in the US

In the meantime, United Airlines singed two letters of intent for 50 new aircraft on December 8, 2009; the first time United would buy new aircraft in ten years. They split their order evenly between the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  Deliveries for the aircraft were expected to occur between 2016 and 2019.

A little more than a year after announcing plans to fly to Auckland, Continental announced plans for their 787s to begin to connect the energy capitals of Houston, Texas and Lagos, Nigeria on November 10, 2011. This announcement came after Continental and United announced plans to merge on May 4, 2010, with the merger officially closing on October 1, 2010. The merger between United and Continental allowed United to become the first airline in the United States to take delivery of a 787 in 2012, and gave the combined company a total of 50 787s on order.

Image by: Chris Sloan. Airchive

Image by: Chris Sloan. Airchive

On August 17, 2011, initial assembly of the first 787 Dreamliner for United began in Washington, and later that year, final assembly was completed on October 12. The first United 787 pilots, Jim Starley and and Niels Olufsen flew a 787 test aircraft during a segment of Boeing’s 787 Dream Tour, from Wichita, Kansas to Rockford, Illinois on January 23, 2012.

Come November 10, 2011, the first United 787 was yet to be completed. As such, Continental launched service between Houston and Lagos without the 787. Instead, a Boeing 777 replaced the highly anticipated Dreamliner. Six days later, Continental decided not to launch service between Houston and Auckland, deciding that no other airplane would be able to make money on the route.

Unfortunately, United later completely abandoned plans to launch the Houston to Auckland route. The decision came shortly after Southwest Airlines was given approval to begin international flights out of Houston Hobby. Jeff Smisek said “that flight was heavily dependent on connecting traffic through IAH, and it would be no longer economically feasible to fly the 787 on that route, since there will be a drain on international traffic from IAH.” United spokesman Christen David said that United planned the flights “on the assumption that (Bush Intercontinental) would be the sole international airport, maximizing connecting traffic. If that isn’t the case, the (Houston-Auckland) flight won’t work.”

The world got their first look at the 787s livery—United was rumored to creating a new or special paint for it—when President Obama spoke in front of United’s first Dreamliner during a tour of the Everett plant. Unfortunately, however, the airplane was only ‘painted’ with stickers. We would have to wait until July 31st to learn what livery the 787 would wear.

During the early hours of July 31st, 2012, the world caught a glimpse of United’s first Dreamliner when, during a live webcast, it rolled out of the paint shop in Everett. United decided that their 787 fleet would wear a special swoop from nose to tail instead of the usual straight gold line. The special livery for their 787 fleet was inspired by Boeing’s trademarked swoop, and United wanted to pay tribute to their long history of working together with Boeing. Two days later, media and employees were able to tour the Dreamliner at a First Look Event in Everett.

EXTRA: Onboard United Airlines’ 787 Route Inaugural Flight from Denver to Tokyo

At the end of August, with delivery on the horizon, United announced the first Domestic flights they were planning to fly. Initial flights would occur between Houston and United’s hubs of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver.  Washington Dulles and Cleveland would see a special 787 flight. United was planning eight Dreamliner flights on November 4, inaugural day.


A United 787 rests at the carriers Houston hub the day before the inaugural flight. Image by Chris Sloan, Airchive

Finally on September 22, 2012, United Airlines became the first airline in the United States to take delivery of a 787 Dreamliner, and, six days later, the first Dreamliner was brought to home base in Houston, Texas. Upon arrival in Houston, dozens of employees and a few members of the media were present to welcome the new aircraft home.

In order to fly passengers, United was required to fly several proving flights with FAA representatives on board. They flew proving flights from Houston to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. During the return of the Amsterdam proving flight, the FAA required the pilots to divert to Iceland as a standard proving flight procedure.

United received FAA certification to fly the airplane at the end of October, which came just in time for the inaugural flight to occur on November 4. At the end of August, we learned the first routes United was going to fly the 787, and they were planning to have eight Dreamliner flights on inaugural day. Unfortunately their second Dreamliner, N26906, suffered delivery delays, forcing United to cancel a number of flights at the last minute. At least the airline offered passengers the option to rebook or cancel their reservations as they recognized that many wanted to fly on one of the first Dreamliner flights.

On November 4, more than 200 passengers along with United executives made history over the skies between Houston and Chicago on the inaugural 787 Dreamliner flight. It was an exciting day filled with smiles and a lot of fun! It is rumored that a traditional water cannon salute knocked out the APU upon arrival, but it did not cause any delays for the return flight to Houston. After arriving back in Houston, the aircraft was off to Los Angeles, and for United, the Dream of the Dreamliner became a reality.

25-united-787-inaugural-checkin-screen-1_23798 66-united-787-inaugural-ribbon-cutting-2_23847127-united-787-inaugural-champagne-offered-by-fa_23690 152-united-787-inaugural-cruise-lighting-economy-class_23724
Photos from on-board the first flight by Chris Sloan, Airchive

EXTRA: More Photos from United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner November 2012 Inaugural

EXTRA: Onboard United’s 787 Inaugural – Airways Magazine article

United was planning to launch the first international Dreamliner flight on December 4, 2012 between Houston and Amsterdam, but United quietly pulled the airplane off the schedule late at night on November 2nd. United cited that they did not feel that they would have ample time to get used to the aircraft prior to launching international flights, and they set December 11 to be the first international flight from Houston to Amsterdam.

A UA 787 in Denver prepares to head to Tokyo. Image by JDL Archives

A UA 787 in Denver prepares to head to Tokyo. Image by JDL Archives

However, United’s Dreamliners made national news on December 4 when a flight en-route from Houston to Newark made an emergency landing in New Orleans.Initial inspections showed that there was no fire in the aft electrical equipment bay, where the problem was reported, and no sign of electrical “arcing,” or electricity flowing incorrectly, according to a person familiar with the situation. In the end, one of six on-board electrical generators failed which caused the need to divert.

EXTRA: Dreamliner Grounding Timeline
EXTRA: Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the hot seat again after Heathrow fire

During a few flights prior to the December 4 incident, many fliers were reporting several ‘teething’ problems with the Dreamliners. One of the most common problems were electrical problems as well as problems with the audio-visual-on demand, or AVOD, system. Several 787 flights were cancelled due to these issues. It was also rumored that something similar occurred during a proving run in October which delayed United’s certification.

In January, United’s Dreamliners made the news once again. On January 7, 2013, a JAL Boeing 787 suffered a battery fire in Boston, and on January 15, an ANA 787 Dreamliner made an emergency landing in Japan, due to a battery fire. On January 16, the FAA grounded all of Boeing’s Dreamliners in the United states, which included United’s six airplanes.

United's N27903 787 first flew on July 12, 2012. It was ferried from PAE-LAX on December 12, 2012. It has been stored at LAX since the January 16, 2013 grounding. Image from:

United’s N27903 787 first flew on July 12, 2012. It was photographed in storage at LAX in April 2013 following the January 16, 2013 grounding.
Image from: Chris Sloan,

Four of the airplanes were grounded in Houston, one was grounded in Tokyo, leaving the last one stranded in Los Angeles. Two days after the grounding began, United issued a statement saying that all Dreamliner flights were cancelled until mid-February, even though nobody was quite sure when they would return to the skies. While United’s airplanes may not have made the news for catching on fire, two weeks later The New York Times reported that the airline had to replace three 787 batteries prior to the battery fires.

United remained quiet about their Dreamliners until mid-February when they said they were removing their Boeing 787 from their flight schedules until June 5th, but they would plan to start their Denver to Narita route on May 12 with the 787. Originally, they were expecting to launch the Denver to Narita route on March 31. In fact, this was the first United 787 flight to go on sale. A spokesperson for United said if the problems with the 787 are fixed sooner than the scheduled date, the 787s will fly as needed throughout the system. On April 8, United planned to resume 787 flights between Houston and Denver on May 31.

On April 23, United’s Dreamliner (N27903), grounded in Los Angeles, was ferried to a Boeing facility at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to receive the battery modifications. Over the course of a few weeks, all of United’s Dreamliners received the battery modifications.

We also learned that the 787 grounding cost United close to $11 million dollars. United flew several pilot training flights between Houston and Austin as well as a flight to Denver and Chicago.

On May 20, United resumed 787 flights, operating flight 1 between Houston and Chicago. United’s CEO and Boeing’s CEO were on-board the re-inaugural flight. Yet even still the waters had yet to quite down. The airplanes, post re-entry into service, still maintained the lowest reliability in the carriers fleet. At the time, WSJ reported that about one in ten flights were affected, giving the airplane an operational dispatch score of around 90%. The low reliability flew square in the face of one of the plane’s main selling points: a very reliable product with easy, fast maintenance.

EXTRA: United 787 Re-inaugural on May 20th

United finally fulfilled the role the Dreamliner was set out for on May 31, 2013 when the first non-stop Denver to Tokyo flight took to the skies. The route had originally been scheduled for March 31, 2013, but was a casualty of the grounding. UA had long been after the flight, working with ANA and city officials on both sides of the Pacific for years. Deemed unfeasable by smaller aircraft, and unprofitable with larger ones, the 787 was uniquely positioned to take the long, thin route by storm.

Image by Michael Bludworth, Creative Commons

Image by Michael Bludworth, Creative Commons

The airplane has begun to settle down, however, and United has begun opening new routes as more aircraft come online. The carrier has worked to deploy the airplanes on west-coast to Asia routes. Currently UA serves, or will soon be serving, Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai, China; Osaka Japan, and most interestingly, Chengdu, China from four west coast cities. Underscoring this development, UA announced that they would open a pilot base in Los Angeles LAX in October of this year. The base will support 787 operations out of LA, San Francisco, Denver, and eventually Seattle.

The carrier is due to receive its next 787, #908, in the coming weeks. As the Boeing 787-9 prepares to enter service, United is due to receive their first of the airplane sometime in late 2014. United will continue to remain the only US-based carrier to operate the airplane for some time still, with American due to receive 787-9s down the road. Despite a rocky start, United’s future with the Dreamliner looks promising as the airplanes open up new places and fresh possibilities for years to come.

*Cover photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

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Analysis: Boeing 787 Dreamliner In the Hot Seat Again After Fire at Heathrow Airport

Reported by Vinay Bhaskara and Jack Harty- Updated at 11:16AM EDT Saturday July 27, 2013

787LHR Fire Banner71213

Update 17: Sunday, July 28 11:15AM E.D.T.

ANA and United Airlines have both found problems with the Honeywell ELT beacons. The issues appears to involve a pinched wire in the emergency locator transmitter. United has completed its inspection of its six 787 fleet, where it located one defective transmitter. ANA also found the same issue in its ELT on 1 example of its fleet and on another uninstalled portable beacon. ANA has removed all beacons from the eight 787s used on domestic routes .  JAL completed investigations this weekend on its 9 787s. The FAA and Japan’s transport safety ministry followed suit with the UK’s AAIB in recommending removal or inspection of the ELTs, 2 weeks after the Ethiopian issue. European operators LOT, Thomson, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and British Airways (who is set to debut the 787 September 1st) have removed he ELTs from their aircraft but have not reported damage publicly. This far, no airlines other then Ethiopian obviously have suffered service interruptions as result of the ELT issue, though a Qatar 787 has been grounded on Monday due to an unspecified “minor” technical issue. Boeing has now delivered some 70 787s to its customers, around 20 since the grounding order was lifted in April, including new customers China Southern, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Thomson, and British Airways. These ELT issues are still considered unrelated to the lithium-ion battery defects which caused the worldwide grounding back in January.

Update 16: Saturday, July 20 10:00AM E.D.T.

Friday, the FAA said it will require inspections of emergency locator beacons on U.S.-registered Boeing 787’s. While the UK’s AAIB (Air Accident Investigations Branch) and EASA (European Aviation Safety Administration) directive calls for disconnecting and removing the Honeywell made ELT beacons, the FAA is requiring only inspections for now in the coming days. The FAA is telling airlines to look for “proper wire routing and any sign of wire damage or pinching” as well as any indication of condensation inside the battery case. The official order is expected to come within the next few days, at which time airlines operating the 68 delivered 787s worldwide are expected to follow suit.

Honeywell has made 6,000 ELT’s that are used in a wide range of planes, however this inspection order only applies to the 787. Honeywell CEO David Cote was asked in an analyst’s call how it would be possible for such a relatively small transmitter to cause a fire like the one in the 787 at Heathrow. Cote replied “We’ll just wait to find out what actuals are, and respond to it then….There’s no significant financial impact to Honeywell in any way.”

Update 15: Friday, July 19, 11:00AM E.D.T.

The following is the brochure for the Honeywell ELT installed on the Ethiopian 787. The image below shows the technical specifications of the ELT in question.

Honewell ELT tech specs

Boeing has released the following response to the AAIB bulletin via Randy Tinseth’s blog:

Today, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued a special bulletin on last week’s 787 incident at Heathrow Airport. The bulletin makes two recommendations in regards to the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). Boeing supports those recommendations and we’re working proactively with the regulatory authorities in taking appropriate action. We’re also coordinating with our customers, suppliers, and other commercial airplane manufacturers.

I know some of you are interested in how the ELT works. While ELTs aren’t necessary for normal airplane operations, their primary purpose is to alert and guide rescue crews to the location of an airplane in the event of an accident. They are found in airplanes across the industry as available options selected by airlines.

An ELT is powered via its own battery with no help from the airplane. The ELT interfaces with the airplane via wires connected to the flight deck so that the pilot can activate the transmitter if necessary. Turning on the transmitter doesn’t transfer any power to the unit. There is a co-ax cable from the unit that connects to the antenna, located on top of the fuselage. If an ELT needs to be removed, it is a straightforward process that takes about one hour.

I wanted to emphasize again that the 787 fleet continues to fly as normal. We’ve delivered 68 of the airplanes to 13 customers. As of last week, the fleet had accumulated more than 23,000 revenue flight hours on 128 different routes since returning to service in late April. We’re confident the 787 is a safe airplane and we stand behind it.

Our team will continue working closely with investigators and regulators as the process continues, while making sure our customers have everything they need. We put the safety of passengers and crew at the top of our list and stand ready to take immediate action.

As per Flightglobal, ANA and Japan Airlines have completed their checks on their 787 fleets, finding no issues:

“We decided to do a visual inspection since we still don’t know what really happened on the Ethiopian aircraft. We found nothing unusual,” says an ANA spokesman…. Japan Airlines adds that the checks were undertaken as a precautionary measure and not sparked by any recommendations from Boeing or the country’s transport ministry.

Honeywell for its part has stated that it will remove its ELTs from the 787 if asked to do so. Previous Honeywell ELTs have been subject to airworthiness directives from EASA.

Thomson Airways has already removed the ELTs from its 787s with no disruption to service, while United Airlines has performed visual checks of its transmitters on 6 787s “with no findings” as per Reuters.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the 787 won’t have to be scrapped, though the ELT will have to be removed.

However, a person familiar with the investigation says that the fire didn’t breach the carbon-fiber skin of the Dreamliner, likely meaning that the jet won’t have to be scrapped.

More information is emerging about the repair challenge posed by this Dreamliner.

The following article from Forbes discusses these challenges in-depth.

This paper, from the SAMPE journal, is entitled: An Examination of Potential FST Hazards Regarding the Usage of CF/Epoxies for Fuselages in the New Generation Commercial Aircraft Such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus 350. The following technical summary raises interesting and important questions about the 787.

  • CFRP epoxy systems are well proven laden with toxins, and smoke and are banned for interiors since the mid 1980’s by FAA edicts and regulations.
  • CFRP epoxy systems auto-ignite around 300 degrees C (580 degrees F) versus auto-ignition temperatures of 1950 degrees F for aerospace aluminum alloys. Obviously, Aluminum alloys contain a bunch of nasties also, but the melting point of most aerospace alloys is in the 950 degrees F range, approximately 2X that of CFRP and the auto-ignition point of traditional aluminum alloys are 4X that of CFRP.
  • CFRP using epoxies as employed on Boeing 787 significantly add to the fuel load and immensely complicate and test fire-fighting times and personnel hazards as proven by the B-2A crash in Guam in early 2008

It has also raised questions, yet again, about Boeing’s outsourcing strategy for the 787. This op-ed from The Seattle Times provides a good starting point on the issue.

Meanwhile, this article from the Supply Chain Forum journal provides a more in-depth look at the outsourcing challenges on the 787. This page in particular provides a good overview of Boeing’s 787 outsourcing strategy.

787 outsourcing overview

Update 14: Thursday, July 18, 11:30AM E.S.T.

This morning, the British Air Incidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) released an initial report about their investigation of lat week’s Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 fire in London.

The investigation into the cause of last week’s fire is now being focused on the Emergency Locator Transmitter as the AAIB report explains that “there are no other aircraft systems in this vicinity which, with the aircraft unpowered, contain stored energy capable of initiating a fire in the area of heat damage.” The ELT is powered by Lithium-Manganese batteries which allows the ELT to operate as required.

Even though the AAIB says a thermal event is “extremely rare,” caution needs to be taken as the AAIB says that “large transport aircraft do not typically carry the means of fire detection or suppression in the space above the cabin ceilings and had this event occurred in flight it could pose a significant safety concern and raise challenges for the cabin crew in tackling the resulting fire.” The AAIB recommends that the FAA should initiate the steps to disable the 787’s emergency locator device and to conduct a safety review of the device.

The AAIB has made the following safety recommendations:

Safety Recommendation 2013-016
It is recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration initiate action for making inert the Honeywell International RESCU406AFN fixed Emergency Locator Transmitter system in Boeing 787 aircraft until appropriate airworthiness actions can be completed.
Safety Recommendation 2013-017
It is recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration, in association with other regulatory authorities, conduct a safety review of installations of Lithium-powered Emergency Locator Transmitter systems in other aircraft types and, where appropriate, initiate airworthiness action
Shortly after the AAIB report was posted, Boeing issued the following statement:

SEATTLE, July 18, 2013 — The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.


As a party to the investigation, Boeing supports the two recommendations from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which we think are reasonable precautionary measures to take as the investigation proceeds. We are working proactively to support the regulatory authorities in taking appropriate action in response to these recommendations, in coordination with our customers, suppliers, and other commercial airplane manufacturers.


We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity.

Update 13: Tuesday, July 16, 1:30AM E.S.T.

In an update from Reuters, the FAA along with other global regulators told airlines that they recommended replacing the Honeywell ELT as it failed a few tests in 2009. John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT who has been an adviser to the FAA, says that it is possible that the ELT caused the fire, but he says that it seems unlikely. Some U.S. aviation and safety officials are saying this is the first time they could recall investigating the transmitter as a possible cause of an aircraft fire.

Update 12: Monday, July 15, 16:00PM E.S.T.

At 15:52PM E.S.T., Honeywell Aerospace tweet out that there ELT’s were certified in 2005 for a variety of aircraft, and no issues have been ever reported.

787 Update: Premature to speculate or draw conclusions. Our ELTs were certified in 2005; on a variety of aircraft w/ no issues ever reported -@Honeywell_Aero

Update 11: Monday, July 15, 14:30PM E.S.T.

The investigation into the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery fire that occurred at London Heathrow last Friday is now turning to the Boeing 787 Emergency Locator Transmitter as a possible cause or contributor to the fire.

The Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) is made by Honeywell Incorporated. The ELT is located in the upper rear part of the 787, and it is operated by a lithium manganese. According to a Tweet from Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower), lithium manganese “has a less volatile history” than the lithium ion batteries which grounded the 787 earlier this year.

Honeywell issued the following statement:

Honeywell has been invited to participate in the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 fire investigation by the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch. We’ve sent technical experts to Heathrow to assist with the investigation; however at this time it is premature to speculate on the cause of the fire. We will continue to work closely with Boeing and the NTSB and await the analysis and output of the investigation before drawing any conclusions.

Update 10: Monday, July 15, 13:01PM E.S.T.

Just a few minutes ago, Jon Ostrower, an Aerospace Reporter for The Wall Street Journal tweeted out that “Investigators are examining the Boeing 787 Emergency Locator Transmitter as a possible cause or contributor to the Heathrow fire.”

BREAKING WSJ: Investigators examining Boeing 787 Emergency Locator Transmitter as possible cause or contributor to Heathrow fire -Sources -@jonostrower

Update 9: Monday, July 15, 7:00 E.S.T

Ethiopian Airlines has released the following statement via its Facebook account:

The incident involving ET787 on Friday, 12 July 2013 in London is now under investigation. As per international rules, information concerning the investigation must come from, or be approved by the investigation body.

Initial reports are that any primary conclusions in the incident will take several days.

Most major investment banks have joined the chorus in treating this as a one-off event; Bernstein Research, CitiGroup, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, et. al have all maintained their current rating of Boeing stock thus far; two of them even put out research notes in doing so.

The following graphic from a Boeing presentation on the 787 shows the electrical systems and distribution of the 787, including the role of the RPDUs.

787 electrical systems overview

Update 8: Sunday, July 14, 10:40 E.S.T

As per Jon Ostrower, the 787’s aft ceiling had Remote Data Concentrators (RDCs) and Remote Power Distribution Units (RPDUs). The aircraft was reportedly on Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP – see the following info from Heathrow Airport: Link) and that is where the investigation is being focused.

As we continue to ponder the enormous repair challenge presented by the damage to the787’s carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) skin, the following article from the National Resource Council of Canada entitled Fire Performance of Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Systems Used for the Repair of Concrete Buildings, and posted on provides some additional context. The following chart presents some interesting info:

Graph showing loss of strength for different polymers as temperatures rise – Source: National Research Council Canada

As per the chart, the 787’s CFRP would have lost half of its strength once the temperature rose past 300 degrees Celsius, or 572 degrees Fahrenheit. An important passage from the piece:

The polymer matrix supports and protects the fibres, transfers and distributes forces to the fibres, and disperses and maintains the spacing of the fibres. The polymers used in structural applications need to have good thermal stability, chemical resistance and low creep. In fire situations, the matrix is the vulnerable component of FRPs because of its combustibility and softening with rising temperatures.

Another important passage is:

Using insulated FRPs to repair concrete means that after a fire, it may be possible to replace the FRP system – the FRP and insulation – rather than replace the reinforced concrete member.

Given the likely temperature that the fuselage burned at, it is a testament to the strength of the CFRP outer skin that the amount of damage on the 787 was relatively limited.

The following presentation from Boeing Commercial Airplanes discusses repairs to the outer skin of the 787: Link

The following slides from that presentation relate to lightning strikes to a CFRP fuselage, and may provide information on how to tackle the repairs to the Ethiopian 787.

787 lightning strike Boeing

787 lightning strike slide Boeing

The following presentation from Japan Airlines also discusses CFRP repair: Link

This article from Composites World magazine describes the challenges of composite repair. An important passage from that article is:

For permanent repairs, wet layup bonded repairs must be cured at 180°F/82°C to 200°F/93°C. Prepreg repairs, which can be used to repair thinner sandwich panels as well as the thick solid laminates common to the load-bearing structures on both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, cure at temperatures ranging from 250°F/121°C to 350°F/177°C and are generally left to composite specialists at major repair stations (see “Learn More”).

However, there are no major repair stations near Heathrow, which poses an interesting challenge. Undoubtedly, the Ethiopian 787 is not air-worthy, and bringing the resources; materials, machines, and labor, required to fix the aircraft is enormously difficult. At the very least, this could end up being a costly affair for all those involved.

Update 7: Saturday, July 13, 18:05 E.S.T

The following seat map from Seat Guru shows the Ethiopian 787 as having a galley forward of door 4, which would seem to indicate that the source of the fire could have originated in a galley.

Image source – Seat Guru

Update 6: Saturday July 13, 12:55 E.S.T.

The British Air Incidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has put out this press release on the incident.

At approximately 1550 hrs UTC on 12 July 2013 a Boeing 787-8 of Ethiopian Airlines, registration ET-AOP, suffered an event at London Heathrow whilst the aircraft was parked on stand, with no persons on board. The initial witness and physical evidence shows that this event resulted in smoke throughout the fuselage and extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage.
In exercise of his powers the Chief Inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has ordered that an investigation into this serious incident be carried out, in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996 and the Standards and Recommended Practices of Annex 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The sole objective of the investigation is to determine the causal and contributory factors of this serious incident, with the intention of preventing a recurrence. It is not the purpose to apportion blame or liability.
In accordance with these international standards and recommended practices, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), USA, representing the State of Design and Manufacture, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Ethiopia, representing the State of Registry and Operator, have been invited to appoint Accredited Representatives to participate in the investigation, along with advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Ethiopian Airlines. The AAIB has also invited the participation of the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) as advisors to the investigation. This team, under the direction of the AAIB, has initiated the technical investigation into the event.
The aircraft is currently located in a hangar at London Heathrow. There has been extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft, and the initial investigation is likely to take several days. However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship.

This appears to rule out the APU as a source of the fire as well as confirming Airchive’s earlier reporting that the lithium-ion batteries are not involved.

Update 5: Saturday July 13, 12:25 E.S.T.

The NTSB has sent investigator Lorenda Ward to assist in the investigation. See the following press release from the NTSB.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to assist in the investigation of a fire that occurred yesterday aboard a parked Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Heathrow Airport, London, England. NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward has been appointed as the traveling U.S. accredited representative. Ms. Ward will be accompanied by NTSB airplane systems investigators and representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. The investigation is being conducted by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the United Kingdom, which will release all information.

Speculation is of course rampant as to the cause of the incident. In addition to the coffee-maker in the galley that we already noted, experts are also pointing out that the fire could have been caused by an external ground power unit (GPU), by the auxiliary power unit (APU), or by the oxygen systems. Given the location of the damage is actually slightly forward of the galley in the crown, it has led some to rule out the galley as a source of the fire. Even more far-fetched theories such as sabotage have not been entirely ruled out either.

The following document from Boeing talks about 787 ramp operations, and could help in determining whether ground power units were responsible for the fire. From a separate Boeing 787 document.

The [electrical] system  also includes ground power receptacles for airplane servicing on the ground without the use of the APU

Ethiopian Airlines released the following statement via Facebook:

ET-AOP landed at Heathrow on 12 July 2013 after normal flight from ADD to LON. Passengers were disembarked in the morning and aircraft was cleaned. It was towed to a remote parking area as usual and parked properly with all internal and external powers switched off. After more than 8 hours smoke was detected. The incident is still under investigation.Related Stories & Galleries:

Ethiopian has no current plans to ground its 787 fleet.

We have not grounded any of our aircraft… The incident at Heathrow happened while the plane was on the ground… and was not related to flight safety.

As to why Ethiopian’s 787s weren’t outfitted with crew rests, keep in mind that Ethiopian uses its 6 Boeing 777-200LRs to operate the longest routes in its network. The 787 is used much more for high-demand, medium distance services. So it makes sense that crew rests might no be needed on the existing fleet of 4 Dreamliners. A full list of current and planned 787 services on Ethiopian can be seen below via the Airline Route blog.

  • Addis Ababa – Frankfurt (from 20th July)
  • Addis Ababa – Guangzhou (2 days only)
  • Addis Ababa – Harare – Lusaka – Addis Ababa
  • Addis Ababa – Johannesburg
  • Addis Ababa – Lagos 787 (1 day only)
  • Addis Ababa – Lome – Rio de Janeiro – Sao Paulo – Lome – Addis Ababa
  • Addis Ababa – London Heathrow (once a week via Rome)
  • Addis Ababa – Lusaka – Harare – Addis Ababa (last flight July 13th)
  • Addis Ababa – Rome – Toronto

On the Thomson mechanical issue, the issue was reportedly an electrical problem which involved the galleys and all but two of the lavatories. We are working to confirm. All 3 Thomson Airways 787s are back in the air today and performing normal service.

Update 4 – Saturday July 13, 06:50 E.S.T.

Reuters reports Ethiopian Airlines officials say yesterday’s 787 incident was “not related to flight safety” and will continue flying their remaining Dreamliners.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which is responsible for investigating civil aviation incidents like the NTSB in the U.S., said the Ethiopian jet has been moved to a secure hangar and that a full investigation was under way. In addition to the British investigators who are leading the investigation, a team from Boeing was on site along with officials from Ethiopian Airlines and from the FAA and NTSB.

Update 3: Friday July 12, 22:45 E.S.T.

Reportedly, an incident occurred involving a Pakistan International Airlines 777-300ER at around 16:00 BST which engaged the Heathrow fire crew, and the combined effects of that incident and the Ethiopian fire were what caused Heathrow to be shut down. We are working to confirm.

This diagram from Boeing, showing where the 787’s batteries are located, clearly rules out the lithium ion batteries as the cause of the fire.

Update 2: Friday July 12, 20:19 E.S.T.

The following document shows the Airplane Rescue and Fire Fighting Information for the Boeing 787. The image below shows the composites breakdown of the 787.

787 composites

The following report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), discusses the Flammability Properties of Aircraft Carbon-Fiber Structural Composites.” The following passage from that report describes how composites burn.

The material burns in a manner similar to a charring material, in that the carbon fibers comprise most of its mass. The composite burns primarily from the vaporization of its resin. It can ignite with a pilot flame after preheating at a low heat flux. When it burns, the resin vapor is forced out of the fiber pores, and pressure causes the material to swell to over twice its volume. In most all cases studied, the composite maintained its rigidity, but its structural strength was not examined after degradation. The material appears to maintain homogeneity in swelling. The fibers create an insulating, char-like structure that causes a reduction in the internal heating, and consequently, the burning rate drops in time. As the burning rate drops, extinction can naturally occur due to insufficient heating. As is common of charring materials, external heat flux is required to sustain burning and flame spread. It should be noted that the carbon fiber can also oxidize under high-temperature conditions, and this was observed even at low heat fluxes. Furthermore, the properties in this report pertain primarily to the characteristics of the resin material, as the carbon fibers are essentially inert.

Boeing has posted an updated statement via Twitter:

Our team is on ground working in support of UK authorities & Ethiopian Airlines to determine cause of 787 event @HeathrowAirport.

Boeing shares on the New York stock exchange closed Friday at $101.87, rebounding from a low of $98.65, and down 4.7% for the day

Update 1: Friday July 12, 16:50 E.S.T.

This article from Reinforced Plastics Magazine details some of the challenges faced in composite repair.

Arguably, the biggest risk of all is that the structurally sound fuselage that emerges newly built from the aircraft factory can have its integrity progressively degraded over a history of successive repairs. No-one knows how many repairs of various types a fuselage can sustain before its strength is so compromised that there is a risk of failure – at worst an explosive decompression at altitude. The dreadful consequences of this became all too evident to British planemaker DeHavilland at the dawn of the passenger jet age more than half a century ago. In that case it was metal fatigue that led to the catastrophic loss of several of DH’s boldly conceived Comet aircraft. Admittedly, a composites failure is likely to be more progressive and less catastrophic, though with high-flying pressurised fuselages one can never be quite sure.

As per Ben Sandilands

The Financial Times has reported an Ethiopian Airlines source as saying a problem had been found in the air-conditioning system eight hours earlier and that ‘sparks’ had been observed.  That report has not been verified, and lacks detail.

A problem with the air conditioning system, if caused by the 787 hardware, would spell trouble for Boeing.

Original Story – Friday July 12, 2013

Damage to the Ethiopian 787 via SkyNews

Earlier today, flights were suspended at London Heathrow Airport [LHR] at 16:30 BST, when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, registration ET-AOP,  caught on fire. The aircraft was parked at a gate after arriving at Heathrow 8 hours earlier, and was unoccupied at the time of the fire. A small amount of smoke was seen rising from the aircraft, and it was doused with fire-retardant foam from at least three vehicles. Heathrow Airport was re-opened to flight around 18:00 BST, with several flights diverting or circling the air-field during the 1 hour 30 minutes closing. Arrivals and departures from Heathrow are suffering sharp delays.

The following image shows emergency personnel attending to the Dreamliner fire at Heathrow – Via Aviation Week

The following video shows the fire response at Heathrow from the Telegraph

At the moment, it is unclear what caused the fire. Unlike in earlier incidents involving fires from the 787’s lithium-ion batteries that grounded the 787 worldwide for more than 3 months, the damage is centered on fuselage crown above door 4 in Section 48 near the overhead crew rest area above the main cabin, though Ethiopian hasn’t configured for crew rest quarters. This location has led many aviation experts and journalists to speculate that the cause of the damage was a fire in the rear galley, or with the wiring just underneath the roof of the 787. Reportedly, the minimum temperature required to burn through the 787’s composite skin is 649 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fire crews attending to Ethiopian 787 – via Sky News

Even though the damage is inconsistent with that of the lithium-ion batteries, it still raises questions as to the safety of the Boeing 787 program. Unrelated to the Ethiopian fire at Heathrow, a Thomson Airways Dreamliner flying from Manchester (MAN) to Sanford, Florida (SFB) was forced to return to Manchester due to a technical issue. The aircraft, registered as G-TUIC was about 400 nautical miles west of Shannon, Ireland when the plane was forced to turn around. The flight returned safely to Manchester, and Thomson Airways released a statement saying:

Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM126 travelling from Manchester to Sanford, Florida experienced a technical issue and the aircraft returned to Manchester Airport, as a precautionary measure.

Thomson Airways Dreamliner - Image Credit: Thomson Airways

Thomson Airways Dreamliner – Image Credit: Thomson Airways

The Boeing 787 has had several technical issues even after resuming service after technical modification on April 27th, 2013. Its dispatch reliability has been below that of comparable new aircraft programs such as the Boeing 777. Every new aircraft undergoes its fair share of teething issues. But after a nearly 5 year delay before the 787s Entry Into Service (EIS), and a more than 3 month long grounding, the traveling public and airline customers might be losing patience with the 787’s safety issues.

ET-AOP, the Ethiopian 787, was actually the first aircraft to resume commercial service after the 787 grounding with a nonstop flight between Addis Ababa and Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines has released a statement on the incident as follows:

Today on Friday, 12 July 2013, smoke was detected from Ethiopian Airlines B787 aircraft with registration number ET-AOP, which was parked at London Heathrow airport for more than eight hours. The aircraft was empty when the incident was observed. The cause of the incident is under investigation by all concerned. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline and a member of Star Alliance since 2011 registering an average growth of 25% in the past seven years.

Boeing also released a statement on the incident via Twitter saying:

We’re aware of the 787 event @HeathrowAirport and have Boeing personnel there. We’re working to fully understand and address this.

The American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has already been contacted and is en-route to investigate. According to the European Aviation Safety Agency, it is too early to tell whether the 787 will be grounded again. The Ethiopian 787 now represents a massive Aircraft On Ground (AOG) challenge. Fixing the aircraft will be a good test for the healing and maintenance capabilities of the 787’s carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials, and has important implications for future aircraft with composite skin.

It is possible that the aircraft may have to be written off, which would represent a major blow to the Boeing 787 program, which has 930 orders plus 52 purchase commitments spread across 3 variants. It also would represent a setback for Etihiopian Airlines’ network as the East African carrier pursues its global ambitions.

An Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner in happier times – image via Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

While the full effects of this latest Dreamliner incident will not be known for sometime, it represents yet another headache for Boeing. The manufacturer has invested billions into the 787 program and much of its future wide-body strategy is centered around the 787 and its technology. Boeing’s share price responded negatively to the incident after hitting a new peak earlier in the day, and was down around 5% as of press time.

Related Stories

  • Boeing 787 Grounding Timeline here.
  • British Airways receives first 787 here.
  • United Airlines Boeing 787 re-inaugural flight here.
  • United Airline Boeing 787 Denver-Tokyo inaugural flight here.
  • First Boeing 787 Handover to ANA here.
  • Boeing 787 Inaugural flight here.

About Vinay Bhaskara

airplanes 1Vinay Bhaskara is an aviation correspondent and analyst for based in Chicago, Illinois. He has been covering the industry in some form since 2008, and currently covers the industry for Bangalore Aviation and Aspire Aviation in addition to his duties for Airchive. His area of specialty lies in airline finance and business practices, as well in data analysis. Bhaskara has been an avgeek since his first long haul flight, when his fascination with Delta’s route map birthed a lifelong passion. In his life beyond aviation, Bhaskara is the co-founder of Admissions Hero, a college consulting service tailored towards students seeking acceptance to elite American universities. He also co-authored an SAT prep book and 2 ebooks related to aviation. In what little free time he has, he enjoys watching and playing all types of sports, as well as binge-watching USA Network television shows and Bollywood films. Follow him on Twitter @TheABVinay, connect with him via his Facebook page,  or reach him via email at

About Jack Harty

Jack Harty is a Houston based correspondent for “Airways Magazine” and He has had a passion for aviation for as long as he can remember, and he loves to collect anything with an airline name on it. He writes, photographs, and helps run the social media channels for “Airways Magazine,” and he writes about the latest airline industry news for He has also has been a contributor to and which are content and promotional partners of In 2012, he flew United’s inaugural Dreamliner flight as well as the “re-inaugural” flight in 2013, and he assisted with Airways’ cover story about the inaugural flight. He has covered many major aviation stories such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery issues as well as the American Airlines and US Airways merger. Harty never slows down. He also enjoys, photography, volunteering at a local museum in Houston, the outdoors, and planning his next adventure. Follow him on Twitter @airlinejack or email him

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United Re-Inaugurates 787 Flights

United Re-Inaugurates 787 Flights

Reported from Houston and Chicago by: Jack Harty, Correspondent

IMG_5845More than one hundred days after the FAA grounded the 787, United Airlines flew their first post-grounding 787 flight from Houston to Chicago on May 20. More than 200 passengers, including executives from both Boeing and United, made history as they spent part of their day cruising at 41,000 feet and at a Mach speed of 0.85 on United flight 1 to mark the return of United’s Dreamliners.

On September 22, 2012, United Airlines quietly took delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and, six days later, they ferried it to Houston, Texas where a large crowd of employees and local journalists joined to celebrate United’s dream come true.

Extra: Boeing 787 Assembly Line at Everett

IMG_2825IMG_2875IMG_2927However, United still had to receive certification from the FAA to fly passengers. It was a long five weeks for United as they conducted safety drills, practiced aircraft servicing, and flew several proving runs to Amsterdam, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Tokyo. United’s second 787 was delivered on October 31 which was several days late as Boeing experienced delays. United had to scrub several 787 flights due to the delay.

198-united-787-inaugural-back-at-houston-4_23779On November 4, United Airlines operated their inaugural 787 flight on an early morning flight from Houston to Chicago. Despite the early hour, aviation enthusiasts, United employees, and many members of the media were excited to make aviation history, and Jeff Smisek, President and CEO of United, was on-board to celebrate. The two hour flight flew by as passengers explored the brand-new aircraft, chatted with Smisek, and listened the quiet hum of the engines. After landing in Chicago, a ceremonial water cannon salute occurred followed by a short arrival ceremony, and, on the return flight to Houston, it became apparent that the Dreamliner dream become a reality for United. However, the reality turned into a headache one month later.

Extra: Boeing 787 Inaugural Article in “Airways Magazine”

Extra: United Boeing 787 Inaugural Flight Photo Gallery

7-united-787-inaugural-stage_23851127-united-787-inaugural-champagne-offered-by-fa_2369084-united-787-inaugural-in-flight-thumbs-up-from-pilots_23867While en-route from Houston to Newark on December 4, a United Airlines Boeing 787 made an emergency landing in New Orleans as one of the six generators on the Dreamliner failed in-flight. The incident caught people’s attention, and some became concerned about the Dreamliner’s safety.

152-united-787-inaugural-cruise-lighting-economy-class_23724A JAL Boeing 787 battery caught fire in Boston on January 7, and the incident caught the world’s attention. Over the next week, every 787 issue, ranging from a fuel leak to United reporting improper battery wiring, was reported all over the world, and the FAA launched a review into the 787’s electrical systems on January 10. However, the Dreamliner caught the world’s attention, once again, when an ANA 787 suffered a battery issue and made an emergency landing in Japan on January 16.

Within a few hours of the ANA Dreamliner emergency landing, the Japanese government grounded both ANA’s and JAL’s 787 fleets for mandatory battery inspections. The FAA followed the Japanese government’s lead and grounded United’s six Dreamliners on January 16. Within a few hours after the FAA imposed the 787 grounding, other aviation government agencies followed, and all 50 delivered Dreamliners in the world were grounded.

Extra: Boeing 787 Grounding Timeline

LOT is the 2nd airline to receive new 787s since the grounding order was lifted. This one is seen in Everett on April 24, 2013.

LOT is the 2nd airline to receive new 787s since the grounding order was lifted. This one is seen in Everett on April 24, 2013.

The FAA’s grounding of the 787 marked the first time in more than three decades that an entire aircraft type was grounded in the United States. From June 6, 1979 to July 13, 1979, the FAA grounded and barred all McDonnell Douglas DC-10’s from U.S. airspace, after horrific accidents. However, the the FAA imposed the Dreamliner grounding after three emergency landings, and some in the aviation industry thought the grounding was an extreme measure.

The day after the FAA grounded the 787, Boeing proposed a fix to the FAA, but it was rejected. United planned to resume 787 flights in mid-February, but, as the investigation of the JAL and ANA 787 battery incidents continued, United pushed back the start date to early-May.

On February 2, The New York Times reported that United replaced 787 batteries on three of their six aircraft between September and December 2012, and safety experts said they were concerned. Boeing conducted their first 787 test flight a week later on February 9 to learn more about how the battery reacted in-flight in hopes of finding the exact cause. On March 25, Boeing conducted a test flight to test their solution to the battery problems, and, 11 days later, Boeing completed a 787 certification demonstration flight with the FAA on-board.

DREAMLINE-AT-FLL-1-1024x378Finally on April 19, the FAA formally lifted the 787 grounding they imposed in mid-January. However, each of the 50 Dreamliners needed to receive the battery modifications in order to fly passengers. A dozen Boeing teams were dispatched to five continents to begin the battery modifications

Four of United’s Dreamliners were grounded at Houston Intercontinental, and I photographed them a few times during the grounding.


February 17, 2013
901 sits on the eerily quiet ramp of the IAH cargo center a month after the FAA imposed the grounding


March 30, 2013
901 continues to sit at the IAH cargo center, but its ports and engines are now covered


May 20, 2013
903 is parked at gate E7 in preparation for United’s first post-grounding 787 flight

Four days after the FAA lifted the grounding, United ferried their 787, N27903, that was grounded in Los Angeles to Boeing’s Facility at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to receive the battery modifications. All battery modifications, except one, were carried out at Boeing’s facility in San Antonio. The United 787 that was grounded in Tokyo, N20904, received its battery modification in Tokyo. The FAA estimates that the cost of the battery modification is approximately $464,763 per aircraft, and the modifications add approximately 184.8 pounds of weight.

Once N27903’s battery modification was complete, the aircraft was ferried to Houston on May 8 to prepare for training flights. On May 9, 10, 11, and 14, pilots conducted a round-trip 787 training flight from Houston to Austin with N27903. Only pilots were on-board the training flights. On May 16, pilots flew N27903 to Denver to continue training. According to United, all training flights went smoothly, and they expect to have all six Dreamliners back in revenue service by the end of the week.

IMG_5879On Monday, May 20, I arrived at Houston Intercontinental around 6:30AM for an early media tour of the 787 before departure. The other reporters were just as eager as I was to check out and fly on the Dreamliner. A fellow reporter, who covered the inaugural 787 flight on November 4, remarked that it seemed a little déjà vu, but today’s flight was even more significant.

Around 7:00AM, we headed to gate E7 to tour the 787. The gate area was deserted, except for a few who were setting up a stage and cookies. After a ramp safety briefing, we headed down to the ramp, and we were able to walk around the United 787, N27903, which would be flying United’s first post-grounding 787 passenger flight.

IMG_5860It seemed like the 787 was ready to fly passengers as the sun was casting a golden glow on the aircraft, and the 787 had a huge smile. I am pretty sure that passengers on other planes that taxied by  were wondering what was going on as we walked around the aircraft taking pictures and videos. All of the journalists were excited to walk all around the 787 to capture unique footage or pictures.



Media in-front of the Dreamliner at gate E7


Fueling N27903 about three hours before departure


A little pre-departure maintenance before heading to Chicago

Video: N27903 from the ramp

After walking around the Dreamliner, we headed back to the gate area where passengers and other United employees started to arrive. I was able to meet some members of United’s social media team, and, shortly after, the crew of United flight 1, United’s CEO, Jeff Smisek, and Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, all took the stage.

McNerney and Smisek made a few short remarks before boarding. Smisek started off by saying that he was excited to be on-board the flight. However, he turned his focus to United’s commitment to reliability and efficiency, and he was proud to remind us that United had its best on-time performance last quarter in more than a decade. He also mentioned that United is training 48,000 United employees as well as employees at Express partners to improve customer service. After reviewing the changes at United, Smisek said, “we are delighted to have the 787 back in service…I’ll tell you Jim, it is a very expensive sculpture to have on the ground. So, we are really delighted to have it up and flying.”


United’s flight 1 Crew, Jeff Smisek, and Jim McNerney

McNerney, Boeing’s CEO, said he was very excited to be on the flight. He turned to Smisek, and said, “Jeff, our relationship with you and your company means everything to us, and the fact that you and your people have embraced this game changing technology, says to the world that have succeeded in coming up with the airplane of the future. We are very sorry about the delay that was caused by some of the technology…but the promise of this airplane remains unchanged. We are absolutely confident in this airplane, and safety means everything to us.”

After both of their remarks, it was time to board! I was able to talk to a few passengers who were surprised that they would be taking part in aviation history on what they thought would be a “normal” flight to Chicago.

Video of Boarding

As we boarded, I noticed that the flight attendants were in the 787 spirit as they hung up a 787 poster in the galley, and, once on-board, it was obvious that the passengers were excited too. It did not seem that there were as many enthusiasts compared to the inaugural flight, but many were excited to step aboard the Dreamliner.

IMG_5921Shortly after boarding, I checked out the Dreamliner’s cockpit and met the pilots. Today’s flight would be under the command of Captain Niels Olufsen. The pilots were very excited and proud to fly the Dreamliner again. When asked what they like most about the Dreamliner, all three said they love having larger computer displays and a smooth ride.

IMG_5913IMG_5915IMG_5917At 11:00AM, the doors were shut, and we started to push back. Several members of the media and United employees lined the ramp area of gate E7 to send off the Dreamliner.

IMG_5935IMG_5940Video: Taxiing by all of the media at gate E7

As we taxied by E20, another United 787 was parked by E20. United conducted one flight to Newark as flight 80. The flight was not expected on May 20, but United quietly upgraded the aircraft to a Dreamliner Saturday morning.


901 getting ready to head to Newark 30 minutes after we depart for Chicago

After a quick taxi to runway 15L, we were on our way. IMG_5957IMG_5962IMG_5969Shortly after take off, service began promptly. However, Jeff Smisek made an announcement welcoming everybody aboard the 787 Dreamliner, and he mentioned that Jim McNerney was also on-board. It was a little turbulent after take off, but the Dreamliner handled the turbulence really well.

Video: 787 Cloud Surfing

Video: Light Turbulence at 41,000 Feet

After a calzone for lunch in United First, I walked through the cabin and talked with a few United fans who booked flight UA1 to be on the first post-grounding 787. The aisles were crowded as the flight attendants tried to conduct beverage service while the media tried to conduct interviews. All of the executives from Boeing and United were kept busy with various members of the media, but most of the passengers remained in their seats.


A chicken calzone with a roasted tomato soup was offered for lunch in United First

IMG_3577[1]IMG_3597[1]IMG_3584[1]Jeff Smisek and John Rainey, United’s CFO, were both very excited to be on today’s flight, and they both said they were happy to have the Dreamliner back in service.

All too soon, we started out descent into Chicago from 41,000 feet. It was a little bumpy as we began approach into Chicago, due to high winds, but the Dreamliner handled the light turbulence very well.

IMG_6009At 1:13PM, we touched down in Chicago, and we had a quick taxi to gate C20. There were a few employees and members of the media who meet us at the gate, and several passengers were interviewed about the flight. The ground and flight crew had just a little more than two hours to get the Dreamliner ready for its return flight to Houston as flight UA2.


N27903 at gate C20 at Chicago O’Hare right after the first post-grounding 787 flight for United

Flight map of UA1 via Flight Aware

Overall, it was a great flight. I was surprised that there were not as many Dreamliner/United fans that booked the flight to fly on the first post-grounding flight, but it was still fun nonetheless. The flight crew was awesome! They were very friendly, and they helped make the flight special.


The crew signed a photo for me to mark the historic flight

I returned to Houston on the Dreamliner, and I could not help but reflect on the last four months. Boeing and United have each had their ups and downs through the battery saga, but United’s first post-grounding 787 flight was a major up for both Boeing and United. It was tough for United both operationally and financially as the grounding cost them approximately $11 million during the first quarter, and they had to delay the launch of their new Denver to Tokyo Naritia service. However, United is expecting to begin Denver to Tokyo Naritia service on June 10, and all six Dreamliners flying by the end of the week.

The Dreamliner grounding story is almost over as ANA, JAL, LAN, and LOT Polish Airlines will resume 787 service within the next two weeks. While it is not clear what caused the battery issue, Boeing will still be working to find the cause, and the pressure is on as more than 800 Dreamliners have yet to be delivered.

 Extra: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Gallery
Extra: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural Flight – ANA
Extra: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Handover to ANA Event

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Continuously Updated Grounding Timeline

By Jack Harty

Last Updated: June 1, 2013 at 1:30 AM EDT


I am excited to post our last update to our “Boeing 787 Dreamliner Continuously Updated Grounding Timeline.” We have spent four long months covering the Dreamliner battery issues, and, finally, Air India, All Nippon Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Japan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and United Airlines have resumed normal operations with their beloved 787s. LAN Airlines will resume 787 flights on July 1.

EVERETT-2013-LOT-787Over the last four months, we have tried to provide the latest 787 updates on our continuously updated timeline to keep you informed about the latest developments, and we are very excited to see the Dreamliners back in the air. Personally, I think that I have become more attached to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner during the last four months as I have spent more than 100 days updating this timeline during the Dreamliner battery saga (with the help of Chris Sloan, Webmaster of, on a few occasions). Yet, it is great to see the Dreamliner back in service!


While the exact cause of the battery problem is still not known, Boeing has developed a modification to the battery which will contain a fire in-case one was to break out in-flight. Despite a modification to the battery that is installed on all Dreamliners, Boeing will continue to find the root of the battery issue.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating the JAL Boeing 787 Dreamliner that suffered a battery fire on January 7 in Boston. Also, the FAA certification process is under investigation, and it is not known if any changes will be made to the process. In the mean time, Boeing is continuing to deliver Boeing 787 Dreamliners to customers, and the final assembly of the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has begun. The first 787-9 is expected to take its first flight sometime this fall, and the first one will be delivered early-summer 2014.

Many have been wondering if the battery issues could have been prevented during the designing, building, and testing phases. Questions about the new technology being too exotic or not as mature (such as lithium ion batteries) have been raised by industry analysts. Also questions about the thought of Boeing trying too much cutting edge design in such a short period of time and the complexity of the supply chain have also been risen. While the long term damage to Boeing’s reputation is not known, there have been no Dreamliner order cancellations.  However, current Dreamliner customers are hoping to receive compensation from Boeing for the inconvenience, but Boeing is not contractually obligated to compensate airlines for the battery issues. But, Boeing has said that they are working with their customers in other ways.

As always, we will be sure to Tweet and post any updates about the 787 grounding on our Facebook page. Thank you to all who have followed our 787 coverage over the last four months!


Update 11:45PM EDT: China Southern Airlines became the first Chinese airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner is expected to arrive at the carrier’s base, Guangzhou, on June 2. Domestic flights will begin shortly after.


Photo courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Update 6:15PM EDT: ANA, JAL, and LOT Polish Airlines will all resume 787 flights tomorrow (June 1).

LOT Polish Airlines is depending on the Dreamliner to help them cut costs to help their financial troubles. On June 20, they will be presenting a plan that includes lay offs to the European Commission for more government aid.

Update 6:57 AM EDT: Manchester based leisure operator Thomson Airways became the first UK airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787. Thomson, along with China Southern, are the first new airlines to take delivery of a 787 since the grounding order was lifted. Thomson Airways was the first European customer for the Boeing 787, when parent company TUI Travel placed an order for 13 Dreamliner’s, with 8 going to the UK division.  LOT, however was the first European 787 operator. The 787, flight 9768, arrived on May 31st at 10:20AM British Standard Time at  the airline’s Manchester base after a 9:27 flight from Paine Field. Onboard were Thomson Managing Director Chris Browne and Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth.

Image courtesy: Thomson

Image courtesy: Thomson

On July 8, the leisure carrier’s first long-haul Dreamliner flights will operate from Manchester to Florida and Glasgow to Cancun. Thomson will also operate services from London Gatwick and East Midlands airports. Later this year, the airline will introduce direct flights to Phuket, Thailand from the UK.

Thomson's first 787 departs on its fly away delivery flight from Paine Field on May 30, 2013. Image courtesy: Boeing

Thomson’s first 787 departs on its fly away delivery flight from Paine Field on May 30, 2013. Image courtesy: Boeing

The Thomson 787 Dreamliner will carry 291 passengers and is configured with 47 seats in the airline’s Premium Club cabin and 244 seats in the Economy Club cabin. Thomson is running a unique promotion called “Name Your Plane” to christen the new aircraft.  A new livery, named the “dreamliner” livery to coincide with the delivery of the Dreamliner, was introduced in May 2012

Extra: Thomson Special 787 Promotional Site here.

British Airways will become the 2nd UK airline to receive a Dreamliner when the first of their 24 Dreamliners (8 787-8s and 16 787-9s) arrives in July, 2013. Virgin Atlantic has 16 787-9s on order which are scheduled to begin deliveries in 2014.


Boeing has confirmed that all 50 Dreamliners that were delivered prior to the grounding have received the battery modifications.

ANA, JAL, and LOT Polish Airlines will resume scheduled 787 flights on June 1. LAN Airlines plans to resume 787 flights on July 1.


On May 23, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) granted an airworthiness certificate for the Boeing 787 which will allow China Southern Airlines to take delivery of its first Boeing 787 at the end of May or early June.

Yesterday, ANA flew their first two 787 flights since the grounding. The two flights took place from Sapporo to Tokyo Haneda. Scheduled 787 service will begin June 1.


ANA has announced that they will operate five non-scheduled domestic 787 flights between May 26 and May 31. Resumption of regular 787 service will begin on June 1, 2013. All of ANA’s 17 Dreamliners have received the battery modifications, and they have conducted more tha  170 proving flights for training.

Osamu Shinobe, President and CEO of ANA, said “The safety of passengers is our number one priority. Modifications for all 787 have been implemented and ANA has undertaken its own additional testing. The 787 remains a game-changing aircraft, important from an environmental, efficiency and passenger comfort perspective.”

Schedule of additional flights with 787:

  Date          Flight Number      Route   Departure Time   Arrival  Time  
May 26 (Sun.)   NH1404   Sapporo-Tokyo (Haneda)    17:00   18:35
May 26 (Sun.)   NH1406   Sapporo-Tokyo (Haneda)    19:30   21:05
May 27 (Mon.)   NH1404   Sapporo-Tokyo (Haneda)    15:30   17:05
May 30 (Thu.)   NH1403   Tokyo (Haneda)-Sapporo    8:00   9:35
May 31 (Fri.)   NH1406   Sapporo-Tokyo (Haneda)    19:30   21:05

* All schedules are subject to approval by relevant authorities.

Source: ANA Press Release


United Airlines resumed 787 flights


On Monday, United Airlines will resume Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger flights, and we will be covering the ‘re-inaugural’ flight live via Facebook, Twitter, and a full article after the flight. Monday’s historic flight will be operated as United flight 1 which will be 11AM Houston to Chicago flight.

United is saying that United’s CEO, Jeff Smisek, United’s CFO, John Rainey, and Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, will be on-board Monday’s flight. A formal gate event with remarks from McNerney and Smisek will occur at 10:05 AM.


Following an ANA Boeing 787 test flight on May 4, engineers found discoloration on a connection on an electrical panel according to an ANA spokesperson. ANA says that the panel was replaced, and they believe that a loose nut caused the problem which did not compromise the safety of the aircraft.

Today, United conducted a 787 test flight between Houston and Denver to continue pilot training to prepare for passenger flights which will begin on Monday. United will resume Boeing 787 Dreamliner service between Houston and Chicago, and we will be covering the flight live via Facebook and Twitter.


LAN Airlines completed a successful test flight, and they expect 787 flights to resume soon.

Boeing will be holding a live chat with Mike Sinnett, 787 vice president and chief project engineer, and Capt. Heather Ross, flight test pilot, on Thursday at 12:30PM PDT. They will discuss recent program milestones and related topics and will take your questions. Be srue to RSVP!


Boeing delivered the first 787 Dreamliner in more than four months which was Boeing’s 51 787 delivery. The delivery also marks the addition of ANA’s 18 Dreamliner. A 787 delivery to LOT Polish Airlines is expected to occur Thursday.

Boeing will be holding a live chat with Mike Sinnett, 787 vice president and chief project engineer, and Capt. Heather Ross, flight test pilot, on Thursday at 12:30PM PDT. They will discuss recent program milestones and related topics and will take your questions. Be srue to RSVP!

Air India will begin domestic 787 flights today and international flights on May 22.


United Airlines has publicly announced that Dreamliner flights will begin on Monday, May 20. Two Dreamliners are back in Houston conducting training flights to Austin, and the other four Dreamliners at at a Boeing Facility in San Antonio, Texas receiving the battery fix and software updates that Boeing is recommending. When passenger flights begin next week, the Dreamliners will fly domestic flights in and out of Houston to Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles, and international flights will begin June 10. The ‘re-inaugural’ flight will occur on May 20 from Houston to Chicago, and we hope you will join us on May 20 as we cover United’s first post-grounding Dreamliner flight live on Facebook and Twitter.


According to, 787 deliveries are expected to resume today. ANA (LN 83, JA818A) is expected to be delivered today and fly away tomorrow while LOT Polish Airlines (LN 86, SP-LRC) is expected to be delivered tomorrow. (SP-LRC is the aircraft that flew the battery fix FAA certification flight in April.)

Air India is planning to resume 787 flights on May 15 instead of May 22. It appears that Air India’s first post-grounding Dreamliner flights will occur between Delhi and Bangalore and Delhi and Kolkata on May 15. Delhi to Frankfurt, London Heathrow, and Paris will resume on June 1st.

ANA is set to resume 787 flights throughout Japan and to Frankfurt on June 1st. ANA’s Dreamliners have been receiving battery modifications, and they have flown approximately more than 80 test flights in Japan.

Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier in the world to resume Boeing 787 flights since the grounding on April 27. Since their first flight, they have continued to fly the Dreamliner without any problems.

JAL is planning to resume Dreamliner flights on June 1. Flights to the U.S. will also begin on June 1.

LAN Airlines is set to resume 787 service on June 1st from Santiago de Chile to Lima and onto Los Angeles.

LOT Polish Airlines will resume 787 flights on June 5 from Warsaw to Chicago. Both of their Dreamliners have yet to receive the battery modifications, and it is rumored that both Dreamliners will be ferried to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the battery modifications.

Qatar Airways resumed Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger flights on May 1 from Doha to Dubai. Since May 1, they have conducted several Dreamliner passenger flights.

United Airlines has publicly confirmed that they will resume Boeing 787 flights on May 20. We will be covering the first post-grounding flight live on Facebook and Twitter from Houston to Chicago, and we hope you will join us.


According to, 787 deliveries are expected to resume today. ANA (LN 83, JA818A) is expected to be delivered today and fly away tomorrow while LOT Polish Airlines (LN 86, SP-LRC) is expected to be delivered tomorrow. (SP-LRC is the aircraft that flew the battery fix FAA certification flight in April.)

Air India is planning to resume 787 flights on May 15 instead of May 22. It appears that Air India’s first post-grounding Dreamliner flights will occur between Delhi and Bangalore and Delhi and Kolkata on May 15. Delhi to Frankfurt, London Heathrow, and Paris will resume on June 1st.

ANA is set to resume 787 flights throughout Japan and to Frankfurt on June 1st. ANA’s Dreamliners have been receiving battery modifications, and they have flown approximately more than 80 test flights in Japan.

Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier in the world to resume Boeing 787 flights since the grounding on April 27. Since their first flight, they have continued to fly the Dreamliner without any problems.

JAL is planning to resume Dreamliner flights on June 1. Flights to the U.S. will also begin on June 1.

LAN Airlines is set to resume 787 service on June 1st from Santiago de Chile to Lima and onto Los Angeles.

LOT Polish Airlines will resume 787 flights on June 5 from Warsaw to Chicago. Both of their Dreamliners have yet to receive the battery modifications, and it is rumored that both Dreamliners will be ferried to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the battery modifications.

Qatar Airways resumed Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger flights on May 1 from Doha to Dubai. Since May 1, they have conducted several Dreamliner passenger flights.

United Airlines has publicly confirmed that they will resume Boeing 787 flights on May 20. We will be covering the first post-grounding flight live on Facebook and Twitter from Houston to Chicago, and we hope you will join us.


Update 1 11:38 AM EDT:


Over the next several days, United Airlines will conduct at least six Dreamliner pilot training flights. The flights will be conducted between Houston IAH and Austin, and the first test flight is expected to occur today. Passenger flights will begin on May 20 between Houston and Chicago. While the battery modifications are being completed, United has made a few minor alterations that Boeing recommended to increase the reliability of the aircraft which include software and hardware updates. We will be onboard the May 20th inaugural flights with live coverage.

ANA, the launch and largest customer for the 787, announced today its resuming Dreamliner services beginning June 1, 2013, following the successful completion of a series of battery system modifications, safety checks and test flights. Both the new Seattle and San Jose to Tokyo Narita, suspended since March 31st and January 18th respectively will resume on Saturday June 1st.

ANA will also introduce the Dreamliner onto a further three international destinations over the summer – Tokyo Narita to Beijing and Shanghai and Haneda to Taipei – bringing the number of overseas destinations served by the 787 to five.

Domestically, the 787 will be introduced on flights between Tokyo Haneda and Akita on June 1 and flights between Haneda and Toyama on June 15. ANA will also be operating additional 787 domestic flights from July onwards, principally on Okinawa flight routes, for summer tourist flights.

We were at the original handover in September, 20011 which can be viewed here and the original inaugural flight which can be viewed here.

61-ANA INAUGURAL 787 PROFILE TOKYO-1On the heels of the 787 returning to service, Boeing has rolled out of the factory the first Dreamliner to be built at the increased production rate of seven airplanes per month. The 787 which rolled out earlier this week, is the 114th 787 to be built overall and the 100th 787 to be built at Everett, Washington. It is a British Airways aircraft as seen in this rollout image.


The 787 program is on track to achieve a planned 10 per month rate by the end of 2013. The production rate surge includes aircraft at the Everett Final Assembly facility, the Everett Temporary Surge Line and Boeing’s new 787 plant in South Carolina.

As of now, 50 787s have been delivered to eight airlines with more than 800 unfilled orders with 58 customers worldwide.

Boeing published a video feature on the rate increase can be found here.

EVERETT 2013 - FULL 787 LINE reports initial assembly of the first 787-9 has begun. with the first horizontal stabilizer for the 787-9 arriving to Paine Field ahead of schedule. The new 787-9 variant, will seat 40 additional passengers, and is expected to begin final assembly this summer. First flight is scheduled during second half of 2013. It will be delivered to Air New Zealand in early 2014 and start flying passengers in mid 2014. More details and images from here.


Update 2 2:15 PM EDT:


Early this morning, United Airlines conducted their first round trip Dreamliner training flight betweet Houston and Austin. Boeing 787 N27903 conducted the training flight which was the first United 787 to receive the battery modifications at Boeng’s facility in San Antonio. More training flights will occur over the next several days.


Four months since the 787 battery incident in Boston, most of the Dreamliners around the world are still grounded, but two airlines have already resumed Dreamliner passenger flights.

Air India is planning to resume 787 flights on May 15 instead of May 22. It appears that Air India’s first post-grounding Dreamliner flights will occur between Delhi and Bangalore and Delhi and Kolkata on May 15.

On June 1st, ANA is set to resume domestic 787 flights and one flight to Frankfurt. ANA’s Dreamliners have been receiving battery modifications, and they have flown approximately 40 test flights in Japan.

Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier in the world to resume Boeing 787 flights since the grounding on April 27. Since their first flight, they have continued to fly the Dreamliner without any problems.

JAL is planning to resume Dreamliner flights on June 1. The Boeing 787 that suffered the battery fire in Boston on January 7 conducted a short taxi test today.

LAN Airlines is set to resume 787 service on June 1st from Santiago de Chile to Lima and onto Los Angeles.

LOT Polish Airlines will resume 787 flights on June 5 from Warsaw to Chicago. Both of their Dreamliners have yet to receive the battery modifications, and it is rumored that both Dreamliners will be ferried to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the battery modifications.

Qatar Airways resumed Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger flights on May 1 from Doha to Dubai. Since May 1, they have conducted several Dreamliner passenger flights.

United Airlines has publicly confirmed that they will resume Boeing 787 flights on May 20. We will be covering the first post-grounding flight live on Facebook and Twitter from Houston to Chicago, and we hope you will join us.


Update 2 9:35AM EDT:


United Airlines has moved up the date to begin Dreamliner passenger flights to May 20th, and the first Dreamliner flight will be UA 001 from Houston to Chicago. Beginning later in the week, United will operate four daily flights between Houston and Chicago until June 9th. On May 21st, United will begin four daily Dreamliner flights between Houston and Denver until June 9th, and one daily flight beginning June 10th. United will also operate 2-3 daily flights beginning May 24th between Houston and Los Angeles until June 9th.

United is still planning to begin international Dreamliner flights on June 10th between Houston and London until July 31st and Denver to Tokyo Narita also on June 10th. The Dreamliner will begin to operate Houston to Lagos on August 1st, and Los Angeles to Tokyo Naritia on August 1st and Los Angeles to Shanghai Pu Dong on August 2nd.

UA787 return CRS

The initial 787 flight, UA1 schedule beginning Monday May 20th in this frame grab from
Click to enlarge

Update 1 2:00AM EDT:

Boeing’s Dreamliner battery modifications are adding 184.8 pounds to the Dreamliner according to Boeing’s Alert Service Bulletin.

On May 2nd, JAL conducted their first Dreamliner test flight since the grounding in January. They are still planning to resume passenger flights in early June along with ANA. ANA has conducted 12 test flights from April 28th to May 1st.

United Airlines and Boeing have been hard at work to make the battery modifications on United’s six Dreamliners. United’s Dreamliner that was grounded in Japan, N20904, started receiving the modifications in one of ANA’s hangars earlier this week. N27903 will be ready to return to revenue service as early as May 7th, and N27901 will be ready to return to revenue service as early as May 10th. Even though the aircraft will be ready return to service, this does not mean they will begin to flying passengers as soon as they are ready, and it remains unclear if United will begin to fly Dreamliner passenger flights sooner than May 31st.

Prior to the first Dreamliner flight since the grounding, Qatar Airways’ Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said that Qatar Airways is expecting to receive compensation for the battery problems. He also criticized the decision by regulators to ground the 787 in January, and he expressed that “I think there was reaction due to the unnecessary evacuation of a Japanese aircraft. People are too sensitive to what the social media says,” Al Baker said. Also, Boeing has agreed to compensate Air India for the 787 Dreamliner grounding, but the details have yet to be finalized according to Air India’s Chief Executive.

Thomson Airlines will debut their Dreamliners with service to Cancun and Orlando Sanford beginning July 8th.


According to a tweet from Jon Ostrower, Qatar Airways will return their Dreamliner to revenue service today. It is set to operate QR 116 from Doha to Dubai as well as the return to Doha.

Boeing and Qatar Airways will be showcasing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the Paris Air Show which begins on June 17. Boeing is hoping to have the advantage as their competitor, Airbus, is not planning to have their new A350 XWB participate in a fly by nor on static display.

On Sunday, Boeing conducted a Boeing 787 test flight out of Everett, Washington. It is unclear if the test flight was for the battery or a general test flight. Also, Boeing has been flying an experimental Dreamliner in Kona, Hawaii. It is unclear if the flights are being conducted are related to battery testing.

JAL is planning to resume Tokyo to Boston service on June 1st.

LOT Polish Airlines’ grounded Dreamliner in Warsaw is rumored to be ferried to Addis Abab to receive the battery modifications in the near future. Their grounded Dreamliner in Chicago will be ferried to Boeing’s facility in San Antonio, Texas for the battery modifications.


Update 4: 10:15PM EDT:

Boeing tweeted at 9:57PM EDT that ANA’s Dreamliner had a beautiful landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Based on another tweet from Boeing, it would appear that the aircraft departed at approximatley 8:03PM EDT from Haneda.

Update 3 10:00PM EDT:

ANA has begun Dreamliner test flights. JA810A is conducting the test flight with Boeing’s CEO and ANA’s Chairman on board. You can track it live via PlaneFinder here.


Update 2 7:35PM EDT:

The Japanese Civil Aviation Board approved Boeing’s battery fix on Friday, and ANA will begin the first of 100-200 Dreamliner test flights in Japan on Sunday. ANA is conducting the test flights to ensure the batteries are safe and to re-familiarize their pilots with the Dreamliner.

According to The Wall Street Journal, ANA and JAL are both taking extra steps to ensure the Dreamliner’s batteries are safe. They are installing a new way to monitor the batteries’ voltage remotely, and their maintenance check procedures are being changed to ensure that the batteries are checked more often.

On Thursday, the FAA formally lifted the grounding they imposed on Dreamliners in the United States as long as the aircraft has received the battery modification. According to the New York Times, the FAA is estimating that the battery modifications will cost $464,763 per aircraft.

In United Airlines’ first quarter conference call on Thursday, they reported that the 787 grounding caused them to lose approximately $11 million. However, they are expecting to resume 787 flights in May. On Saturday, United ferried N27901 to Boeing’s facility at Lackland Air Force Base to receive the battery modifications, and N27903 is still being worked on at Lackland Air Force Base. N26902’s battery modification was completed in Houston yesterday, and United began modifications on N45905 today. N20904 remains in Narita.

LOT Polish Airlines will resume 787 service between Warsaw and Chicago on June 5th. In the mean time, they will lease a few Boeing 777s, beginning on May 4th, to fly between Warsaw and Toronto. It is expected that they will ferry their Dreamliners to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to have the battery modifications completed.

Boeing is expecting final assembly of the first Boeing 787-9 to occur in late May, and the first flight is expected to occur in August or September. Entry into service is expected in April 2014.

Update 1 12:15PM EDT:


Photo taken by Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s V.P. of Marketing

Today, Ethiopian Airlines became the first airline to conduct a Dreamliner flight with passengers on board. They conducted the first 787 commercial flight since the grounding on a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, and Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam and Randy Tinseth, Boeing Vice President of Marketing, were on board.

In an Ethiopian Airlines press release, Tewolde Gebremariam said “We are excited to resume our service with the Dreamliners. The Dreamliner is the most advanced commercial aircraft, which has enabled passengers travelling with Ethiopian to enjoy the ultimate on-board comfort. During the five months our four Dreamliners were in service, we were very pleased with their performance, and the feedback from our passengers has been overwhelmingly positive. I look forward to being on-board the first passenger flight on Saturday, 27 April.”

After the flight, Randy Tinseth wrote in Randy’s Journal that “I’ve taken countless flights during my career at Boeing. But I can tell you the one I took today may be the most special.” Also, he said that that “It was a fantastic, party-like atmosphere as we boarded. As one surprised passenger told me after realizing he’d be flying on the Dreamliner—’this is history.’”

You can view more images from today’s flight, and read Rany Tinseth’s full post on Randy’s Journal.


In their first quarter earnings conference call, Boeing said that they are expecting to resume delivering Dreamliners in early May, and they expect the bulk of battery modifications to be completed by mid-May. Also, Boeing recently increased the current production of five Dreamliners a month to seven. However, they will not tell the specific costs of the Dreamliner battery problems, but they say the costs were “minor.” As for compensation, Boeing’s CEO said they are under no contractual obligation to provide compensation, but they will help their customers “in various ways.”

According to a tweet from Jon Ostrower, the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner began to be assembled at Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina factory. Boeing said they are expecting the first 787-9 to enter into final assembly sometime in the middle of this year.

On the front of battery modifications, it is rumored that one or two United Dreamliners have received the battery modifications in Houston. Also, it is expected that LOT Polish Airlines’ two Dreamliners will be ferried to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to receive the battery modifications.


Airlines that had Dreamliners grounded away from their hubs are beginning to ferry their beloved Dreamliners back home to receive battery modifications.

Qatar Airways will ferry their Dreamliner (A7-BCK) that was grounded in London back to Doha to receive battery modifications on Wednesday (April 24).

This morning, United’s Dreamliner (N27903) that was grounded in Los Angeles was ferried to a Boeing facility at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to receive the battery modifications. It is unclear if the four United Dreamliners grounded in Houston will have the battery modifications completed in Houston or at the Boeing facility in San Antonio. Last week, Aviation Week reported that LOT Polish Airlines was going to ferry their two Dreamliners to Houston IAH for battery modifications, but it is unclear where their modifications will be completed.

UA 787

The flight path of the United Dreamliner that was ferried to San Antonio, Texas courteous of Flight Aware.

Stay tuned…


On Monday morning, Boeing began battery modifications on select ANA and JAL Boeing 787 Dreamliners in Japan. Five teams from Boeing are working at four airports across Japan to make battery modifications to ANA’s Dreamliners, and two teams are working on JAL’s Dreamliners. It is expected that it will take each team approximately five days to complete the battery modifications for each aircraft. An ANA spokesperson said, “since we have 17 787s, it should take a month to finish all the modifications on our aircraft.” However, a JAL spokesperson did not give a specified time period that they expect all battery modifications to be completed. However, the JAL spokesperson said, “We expect it to take several weeks to complete the modifications. We will then have to wait for the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau [JCAB] to issue the directive to lift the ban on 787, then we can decide when to return them to service.”


Reuters is reporting that ANA will conduct between 100 and 200 round trip Dreamliner test flights in May before allowing their Dreamliners to fly passengers in June. Sources from ANA told Reuters that the purpose of the test flights are to re-familiarize the 180 pilots that are trained to fly the 787 and to ensure that their Dreamliners are safe. The test flights will occur between Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports as well as Chitose in northern Japan. Also, one source told Reuters that ANA could use the test flights as cargo flights.

While the FAA lifted their 787 grounding yesterday, the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau has yet to lift their grounding they imposed, but it has been reported that they could lift the grounding as soon as April 25.


4th Update – Boeing Press Release

Release Issued: April 19, 2013 3:39 PM EDT

Boeing to Begin Modifying Boeing 787s as FAA Approves Battery Improvements

  • Modifications to existing fleets to begin; deliveries to resume soon
  • Boeing to provide customers support for return to service.

EVERETT, Wash., April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Today’s approval of battery system improvements for the 787 Dreamliner by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clears the way for Boeing (NYSE: BA) and its customers to install the approved modifications and will lead to a return to service and resumption of new production deliveries.

“FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. “The promise of the 787 and the benefits it provides to airlines and their passengers remain fully intact as we take this important step forward with our customers and program partners.”

The FAA’s action will permit the return to service of 787s in the United States upon installation of the improvements. For 787s based and modified outside the United States, local regulatory authorities provide the final approval on return to service.

Approval of the improved 787 battery system was granted by the FAA after the agency conducted an extensive review of certification tests. The tests were designed to validate that individual components of the battery, as well as its integration with the charging system and a new enclosure, all performed as expected during normal operation and under failure conditions. Testing was conducted under the supervision of the FAA over a month-long period beginning in early March.

“The FAA set a high bar for our team and our solution,” said McNerney. “We appreciate the diligence, expertise and professionalism of the FAA’s technical team and the leadership of FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood throughout this process. Our shared commitment with global regulators and our customers to safe, efficient and reliable airplanes has helped make air travel the safest form of transportation in the world today.”

Boeing, in collaboration with its supplier partners and in support of the investigations of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Japan Transport Safety Board, conducted extensive engineering analysis and testing to develop a thorough understanding of the factors that could have caused the 787’s batteries to fail and overheat in two incidents last January. The team spent more than 100,000 hours developing test plans, building test rigs, conducting tests and analyzing the results to ensure the proposed solutions met all requirements.

“Our team has worked tirelessly to develop a comprehensive solution that fully satisfies the FAA and its global counterparts, our customers and our own high standards for safety and reliability,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “Through the skill and dedication of the Boeing team and our partners, we achieved that objective and made a great airplane even better.”

Boeing also engaged a team of more than a dozen battery experts from across multiple industries, government, academia and consumer safety to review and validate the company’s assumptions, findings, proposed solution and test plan.

The improved battery system includes design changes to both prevent and isolate a fault should it occur. In addition, improved production, operating and testing processes have been implemented. The new steel enclosure system is designed to keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or even being noticed by passengers.

“This is a comprehensive and permanent solution with multiple layers of protection,” said Conner. “The ultimate layer of protection is the new enclosure, which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire. We have the right solution in hand, and we are ready to go.

“We are all very grateful to our customers for their patience during the past several months,” said Conner. “We know it hasn’t been easy on them to have their 787s out of service and their deliveries delayed. We look forward to helping them get back into service as quickly as possible.”

Boeing has deployed teams to locations around the world to begin installing improved battery systems on 787s. Kits with the parts needed for the new battery systems are staged for shipment and new batteries also will be shipped immediately. Teams have been assigned to customer locations to install the new systems. Airplanes will be modified in approximately the order they were delivered.

“The Boeing team is ready to help get our customers’ 787s back in the air where they belong,” said Conner.

Boeing will also begin installing the changes on new airplanes at the company’s two 787 final-assembly plants, with deliveries expected to resume in the weeks ahead. Despite the disruption in deliveries that began in January, Boeing expects to complete all planned 2013 deliveries by the end of the year. Boeing further expects that the 787 battery issue will have no significant impact to its 2013 financial guidance.

3rd Update FAA issues statement

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system. The changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level.

Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.

“Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

To assure proper installation of the new design, the FAA will closely monitor modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The FAA will stage teams of inspectors at the modification locations. Any return to service of the modified 787 will only take place after the FAA accepts the work.

As the certifying authority, the FAA will continue to support other authorities around the world as they finalize their own acceptance procedures.

2nd Update

The Associated Press is reporting that an unnamed congressional official say the FAA has accepted Boeing’s revamped battery system for the 787 and as result has agreed to lift its grounding order. With the order, Boeing now has the authority to begin retrofitting the Dreamliners with the new battery system and containment kit. Boeing has dispatche Trans Secretary Ray LaHood says “These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.” The cause of battery failures does remain unknown.

Boeing intends to begin work on the retrofits early next week with 300 mechanics, with some engineers reportedly already dispatched to key 787 hubs such as ANA / JAL in Tokyo and United in Houston. The new battery cage and revised battery insulation installation is projected to take 5 days per aircraft. 787 flights could resume within just a few days or a week. United will likely move up their May 31st 787 return to schedule flight from IAH-DEN-IAH. Qatar could also move up its 787 May 15th return of service for the 787. ANA has loaded 787s back on to their schedules beginning May 31 while JAL has yet to reinstate their 787s back on their schedules yet. Japan’s JAA and Europe’s EASA are expected to follow the FAA’s lead in allowing the 787s back in the air.

Once the 787s resume scheduled flights, this will end the only full grounding of an airline type since the Douglas DC-10 was grounded in 1979 following the crash of American Airlines flight 191. Boeing says all original deliveries projected for CY 2013 will not be affected.

1st Update

There is still no word this morning on whether the 787 Grounding Order will be lifted. There has been speculation that the timing of the announcement figured largely with The National Transportation Safety Board’s two-day investigative hearing into the Jan. 7 Boeing 787 battery fire. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday April 23 and Thursday April 24th in the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center at 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW in Washington, beginning at 9AM.

The agenda for the meeting calls for representatives of the FAA, Boeing including Mike Sinnett, Vice President, 787Chief Project Engineer; the Japanese battery manufacturer GS-Yuasa and Thales who will testify and answer questions from NTSB Board members and technical staff about the design, testing, certification and operation of the lithium-ion battery on the Boeing 787 and the battery fire incident.

Topic Areas for the hearing on Day 1 include:

  • Reasons for selecting Li-Ion battery technology and its classification as novel design
  • Process for evaluating battery/battery system as novel design and developing certification requirements (Issue Paper)
  • Resulting Special Conditions and their interpretation
  • Applicability of Airworthiness Standards for Equipment, Systems, and Installations (14 Code of Federal Regulations 25.1309)
  • Industry safety standards used in development of certification requirements
  • Certification program timeline and high level compliance plans
  • Prime and subcontractors battery expertise and experience
  • Role of prime and subcontractors in the development and design approval of the battery system
  • Cell and battery design and specifications
  • Charging system design and specifications
  • Design development testing and evaluation:
    • Battery, cell, and integrated system testing
    • Test failures / investigations
    • Engineering analysis and evaluation of design during development phase
    • Resulting design modifications

Topic Areas for the hearing on Day 2 include:

  • Battery, cell, and integrated system testing pertinent to certification (qualification, development, other)
  • Safety Assessments
    • Purpose with respect to certification
    • Analyses performed to evaluate battery safety risks (Boeing, Thales, GS-Yuasa roles)
    • Data sources for analyses
    • Certification process structure and comparison to prior certification programsRetained and delegated approval authority
    • Oversight of delegation organization / authorized representatives
    • Oversight of validation testing for B787 Li-Ion battery
    • Findings of compliance and review of safety assessments for B787 Li-Ion battery

Review the full agenda here.


Today, the FAA granted Boeing approval to resume routing production flights on its 787s to determine that the modifications were working on newly assembled aircraft.

Late this afternoon, numerous sources around the world including Reuters, “The Wall Street Journal”, and ATW Online are reporting the 3 month long Boeing 787 Dreamliner grounding could be lifted as soon as Friday April 19th, by the FAA. This would mean that Boeing has demonstrated to the FAA that the new battery containers will prevent fires and vent fumes and smoke from the aircraft. This would allow Boeing to begin the process of dispatching teams to work with its worldwide customer base to retrofit the 50 Dreamliners in service. Foreign regulators, particularly Japan’s JAA are expected to follow the FAA’s lead. The timeline to begin flying 787s in passenger service could be moved up to early May. Already United Airlines, Air India, and Qatar have load the 787s back on their schedules. Just as significant, the current ETOPS rules so key to the Dreamliner’s value proposition are expected to be in place when the Dreamliner returns to service. Next week the NTSB will be holding public hearings that will deep dive into the FAA’s original approval and how throughly they vetted Boeing’s 787 battery systems.


@AirlineRoute is reporting that both Air India and Ethiopian Airlines are tentatively scheduled to resume Boeing 787 service on May 1, 2013. But chances seems to be slim given this is 3 weeks away. Air India as you may recall flew their 787s back to the Mumbai base controversially, following the grounding. Air India has taken delivery of 6 787s with 21 on order. Ethiopian, the first African carrier to fly the Dreamliner operated their 787s between IAD and Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa before switching back to the 777. Ethiopian operates 4 787-8 with 9 on order.


Over the weekend, United quietly returned their Dreamliners to their schedule, and it appears that United is anticipating their first Dreamliner flight to occur on May 31st from Houston to Denver. Further, United will begin their much anticipated Denver to Tokyo-Naritia on June 10th, and United will also begin flying one Dreamliner flight a day between Houston and London Heathrow from June 10th to July 31st. These dates are subject to change.

Qatar Airways is anticipating to return their Dreamliners to the skies on May 15th from Doha to London Heathrow. Beginning May 25th, their Dreamliners will begin to fly between Doha and Frankfurt, and both Doha to Munich and Doha to Zurich are estimated to begin on June 1st. However, these dates are subject to change.

LAN Airlines is expecting to resume 787 operations on their Santiago-Lima-Las Angeles service beginning on June 1st instead of June 30th. However, the date is subject to change.

It is unclear when Air India, ANA, Ethiopian Airlines, JAL, and LOT Polish Airlines plan to resume 787 operations.

Thomson Airlines is slated to be the next carrier to operate the Dreamliner beginning this summer, and British Airways will be the next new carrier to take delivery of a Dreamliner after Thomson. It is rumored that British Airways announced their initial 787 routes internally in March. According to a post on, British Airways will initially fly their Dreamliners to Calgary, Newark, Toronto, and Washington Dulles beginning on July 16. The flights have not been loaded into the system as the start date depends on the delivery date, and the inaugural flight could potentially occur before July 16.

While the Dreamliner carriers have begun to integrate their Dreamliners back into their schedules, Boeing has sent several teams to Japan with retrofit kits to fix the Dreamliner battery problems. However, the FAA has yet to certify Boeing’s retrofit, and Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JAA), which is similar to the FAA, will also have to approve the retrofit. Yet, many are expecting the JAA to make their ruling after the FAA approves the fix.


Updated: 6:45EDT: Randy Tinseth, vice president, marketing, for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, reflected on today’s events by writing, “I want to once again thank our customers for their support during this process—as well as every member of the Boeing team for their tireless work to reach this very important point. Captain Ross perhaps said it best after today’s flight: ‘It feels great knowing that we are one step closer to helping our customers get their airplanes back in service.”’ You can read his full post on Randy’s Journal that reflects on the importance of today’s certification flight here.

Updated: 5:30PM EDT: Boeing has completed a 787 certification demonstration flight, using Line 86, to demonstrate their battery fix the the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A 1 hour and 49 minute test flight was conducted with 11 crew members on board, including two FAA representatives. The Dreamliner departed Paine Field in Everett, Washington at 10:39AM PDT and landed at 12:28PM PDT. After completing the test flight, Boeing said in a written statement that the “certification demonstration plan was straightforward and the flight was uneventful.” The test flight included flying in normal and non-normal flight conditions to test the battery’s fix performance.

Image courtesy: Boeing

Boeing will gather, analyze, and submit the data to the FAA within the coming days. After submitting the data, the FAA will analyze the data and either approve or not approve Boeing’s fix.

If the FAA approves Boeing’s current plan, it is estimated that it will take four to five days to install the fix per aircraft. However, Boeing has already sent several teams equipped with materials to fix the Dreamliner battery problems to Japan, and they have started putting together supply kits to give to the airlines. The order will be based roughly on who received the aircraft first.

Update: 12:00AM EDT: On Wednesday, British Airways’ parent, IAG, announced they will purchase 18 more 787 Dreamliners, and IAG said they may place another 787 order for Iberia. The 18 additional Dreamliners will be delivered from 2017 to 2021, and they will help phase out British Airways’ Boeing 747-400 fleet. While the order is estimated to be valued at $3.7 billion based on list price, it is estimated that the order will only be approximately $2 billion based on standard airline industry discounts.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Line 86, took to the skies on Wednesday for a routine test flight. Boeing said that a battery certification demonstration flight will occur within the next few days. However, it is rumored that the certification demonstration flight could happen as soon as today (Friday April, 5).

All Nippon Airways’ pilots will be returning to the Boeing 787 simulators for more training this month. ANA plans to start selling Dreamliner tickets for domestic routes beginning June 1.

Boeing has sent several teams equipped with materials to fix the Dreamliner battery problems to Japan. Based on the plan that Boeing is hoping to be approved by the FAA within the coming days, the fix is estimated to take four to five days per aircraft. The order will be based roughly on who received the aircraft first.


Today, Boeing conducted a 787 test flight that was not related to battery testing or certification. They flew Line 86 from Everett to Moses Lake and back, and the Dreamliner was in the air for approximately two hours and forty-five minutes. Line 86 is the same aircraft that conducted the battery test flight on March 25. Boeing said they expect a battery certification flight to occur within the coming days.

It was reported today that Air India is seeking at least $37 million from Boeing for compensation due the Dreamliner issues. LOT Polish Airlines is also joining Air India in asking Boeing for compensation, but it is not known how much LOT Polish Airlines is asking for.

Last week, United Airlines delayed the start of their Denver to Tokyo service until June 10. Originally, they were targeting to start on March 31st, but the grounding and delays are lasting longer than they anticipated.


The Seattle Times and Wall Street Journal have both reported that Boeing will fly a 787 test flight on Saturday, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the flight is a non-battery related test flight while the Seattle Times is reporting that it is a FAA demonstration flight. The flight will be conducted by the same aircraft (Line 86) that flew a test flight on March 25. Stay tuned…

It appears that Plane Finder was a bit anxious to see the 787 to return to the skies. At 12:30 PM EDT, it was reported that Plane Finder was showing a Dreamliner to be over south Oregon, but, about an hour later, it appeared that Plane Finder realized that it was a glitch. However, a 787 certification flight with the FAA is estimated to occur within the next few days.


Boeing conducted a Boeing 787 test flight to test their solution to the battery problems. After conducting a two-hour and eleven-minute test flight, Boeing said the flight “went according to plan.” Boeing will analyze the results, and, if the flight was successful, Boeing will use the same Dreamliner that flew today’s test flight, Line 86 which is painted in a LOT Polish Airlines livery, for ground and flight tests with the FAA to certify their fix within the next few days. Boeing officials estimate that the Dreamliners could return to service service on May 1st, or earlier. Simultaneously, Poland’s Treasure Ministry is continuing to seek compensation for the Dreamliner battery problems as LOT Polish Airlines loses approximately $50,000 each day their two Dreamliners remain grounded.



While the Dreamliners remain grounded, it is rumored that British Airways has announced their initial 787 routes internally. According to a post on, British Airways will initially fly their Dreamliners to Calgary, Newark, Toronto, and Washington Dulles beginning on July 16. The flights have yet to be loaded into the system as the start date depends on the current battery issues, and the inaugural flight could potentially occur before July 16. Stay tuned…


The New York Times is reporting that ANA wants Boeing to compensate them for the Boeing 787 groundings with cash. While Boeing has yet to outline an official plan to compensate their 787 customers for the battery issues, Boeing is not obligated to compensate airlines for lost business based on a warranty airlines could have purchased. Through the end of May, ANA will have cancelled 3,600 Dreamliner flights due to the battery issues, and ANA is expecting to lose $11.6 million during April and May due to the groundings.

While it has been reported that Boeing is close to a fix, ANA said it will take at least a month to receive the supplies and to fix the battery.


UK based aircraft components-to-energy conglomerate Meggit confirmed that the Boeing 787’s battery charger passed a series of tests that the NTSB ran. The battery charger is made by a US subsidiary of Meggit.

Several United 787 trained pilots are remaining on the ground while others are flying the other aircraft they flew before they trained on the 787. However, some of the grounded pilots are training on the Boeing 787 simulator in Houston.


150 ANA 787 pilots are being forced to stay home as different aircraft take on additional workloads.

Several United 787 trained pilots are remaining on the ground while others are flying the other aircraft they flew before they trained on the 787. However, some of the grounded pilots are training on the Boeing 787 simulator in Houston.

Once a plan to fix the 787 battery problems is approved, a long testing period will have to occur. Some analysts say that the Dreamliner could be grounded for another three to six months.

(New York Times)


Updated 5:25PM EST: JAL has cancelled all 787 flights until May 31st, and they are considering delaying the retirement of two Boeing 767 aircraft to prevent canceling flights. (Reported by FlightGlobal)

Updated 1:51PM EST: Today, Boeing met with the Japanese government to discuess their solution to to fix the 787 battery problems. However, the Japanese government continues to say that there is not enough evidence to show what exactly caused the fires, and they mentioned that a shock may have caused the battery to overheat.

Updated 12:59AM EST: Boeing will brief their 787 customers on Friday about their plan to correct the 787 battery problems. However, extensive test flights will need to be completed before the FAA lifts the grounding, but Boeing’s solution is a permanent solution. Boeing’s plan has three layers which will prevent a failed cell form harming adjacent cells, protect the plane from damage of all the cells burn, and attempt to ensure none of the eight individual cells within a battery overheat.


Sources told the WSJ that the FAA could allow the 787 test flights as early as next week, but the FAA quickly denied the sources statement.

The LAN 787s are grounded until June 29th.


ANA has cancelled all 787 Dreamliner flights through May 31st , and, since grounding their 787 fleet on January 15, ANA has cancelled 3,701 787 flights.


Boeing and the FAA met on Friday to discuss Boeing’s long term solution to fix the 787 battery problems. Very few specific details about the meeting have emerged, but the FAA is allowing Boeing to conduct more test flights to ensure Boeing’s solution will actually work. Since the actual causes of the Dreamliner’s battery problems are unknown, battery and aviation-safety experts say it may be hard for Boeing to meet the FAA’s standards if the causes are not known. However, after the meeting Boeing issued a statement stating that they were “encouraged by the progress being made toward resolving the issue and returning the 787 to flight for our customers and their passengers around the world.” (Via The New York Times)


Boeing may have a solution to fix the 787 problems, and, today, they will meet with FAA officials to discuss their plan.The plan is a 10-point package with emphasis on changes to the plane’s lithium-ion battery cells as well as a new protective fireproof container. However, today’s meeting does not mean that a decision will be reached as the FAA may ask for clarification or extra drawings. Be sure to follow @airwaysmagazine and @airchive for the latest updates on Twitter.

As we mentioned last week (Feb. 14 Update), LOT Polish Airlines is in dire need to return their 787s to the skies. The Polish government said in a statement yesterday: LOT is losing $50,000 a day due to the grounding of its two Dreamliner, and, since the grounding, LOT has lost $2.5 million.

Yesterday, United Airlines said they are removing their Boeing 787 from their flight schedule until June 5th, but they plan to start their Denver to Narita route on May 12 with the 787. A spokesperson for United said if the problems with the 787 are fixed sooner than the scheduled date, the 787s will fly as needed throughout the system.


Boeing is headed to Washington DC to present the FAA a solution to fix the 787 problems. Boeing believes that the battery overheated because the lithium-battery cells were too close to each other, and CNBC has reported that Boeing’s solution includes the installation of ceramic plates between each cell and add a vent to the battery box.

Air India’s CEO said Boeing told them today that they think the 787 can be back in the air as soon as early April. However, both ANA and JAL said Boeing has not informed them about this.

Japan’s Transport Ministry said the lithium ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 was improperly wired.


As early as this week, Boeing could present a temporary solution for the 787 battery problem to the FAA. The temporary fix includes a heavy-duty titanium or steel box around the battery cells and high-pressure evacuation tubes. The box would be able to vent any gasses in case a fire was to break out. However, it is unclear if the FAA will approve any temporary solution, and those involved from a financial stand point at Boeing say that “This cannot drag out for six to nine months … from a financial standpoint. Think about nine months of airplanes just sitting there,” said an Everett source for the Seattle Times. Stay tuned…


While Boeing continues to stand by its lithium-ion battery technology for the 787, Airbus a release that it is confident in the lithium-ion batteries as well for its upcoming A350 XWB flight test program. But for production, it will “activate its plan B” and switch to conventional nickel cadmium main batteries for the airplane’s entry into service. Airbus currently doesn’t expect the battery change to affect the A350 XWB EIS or flight test program.


LOT Polish Airlines has grounded their two 787 aircraft until October due to the 787 issues. As Boeing works to find the source of the battery problems, LOT President, Sebastian Mikosz, said LOT does not want to include the 787 in the summer schedule until Boeing has a clear understanding of what is causing the battery problems. Since taking delivery of the 787, LOT has flown the new aircraft around Europe to get ready for trans-atlantic service, and, on January 16th, LOT was able to complete their inaugural flight from Warsaw to Chicago. As the inaugural 787 flight from Warsaw to Chicago began their final approach into Chicago, LOT cancelled the return flight, and the 787 has remained on the ground in Chicago since the grounding of the 787 fleet. The decision to ground the 787 is a setback for LOT as they work to cut costs and plan mass layoffs in an effort to survive. In the meantime, LOT has renewed their 767 leases to substitute for the flights they planned to be operated by the 787, and LOT is reportedly in talks with Boeing about compensation for the issues.

(Via: CBS News Marketwatch)

Image courtesy: LOT Polish Airlines


Investigators are examining the JAL Boeing 787 battery that caught fire on January 7th for any ‘dendrites’ in the battery. Dendrites are tiny deposits of lithium that can grow in the cells of batteries which can cause short circuits, significant heat, or fire. Last Thursday, NTSB officials announced that the fire was triggered by short circuits, and the examination for dendrites will be crucial to understanding the cause of the short circuits. (Via: Jon Ostrower)

Boeing flew test aircraft ZA-005, on its second FAA approved flight leaving Boeing Field at 10:17AM PST and returning at 11:47AM. The aircraft flew a short, uneventful 90 minute flight mainly over Washington State. There were 13 crew and engineers on board as well as gear to test the lithium ion batteries. Boeing say no additional test flights are planned for the time being. Here ls the track on Flight Aware and an image of ZA-005 from Boeing today departing BFI.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner ZA-005 takes-off from Boeing Field on its second post-grounding FAA approved test flight.
Image courtesy: Boeing

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Op-Ed Contributor: Is The Media Biased Against The Boeing 787?

United’s N27903 787 first flew on July 12, 2012. It was ferried from PAE-LAX on December 12, 2012. It has been stored at LAX since the January 16, 2013 grounding. This is one of 6 of United’s 787s that have been delivered. In addition 4 are at Houston Bush Intercontinental and 1 is in Tokyo, Narita. Image from:
Opinion of: Jack Harty, Correspondent

Over the course of nine days, the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner became a living nightmare for Boeing as two battery issues caused a worldwide grounding of the Dreamliner fleet. On January 7th, a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s battery caught on fire in Boston, and the incident caused some concern about Boeing’s use of lithium-ion batteries. Nonetheless, this was not the last Dreamliner battery incident. On January 15th, an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner made an emergency landing in Japan due to a battery overheating, and, approximately two hours later, the Japanese government grounded both All Nippon Airways’ and Japan Airlines’ Dreamliner fleets for a mandatory battery inspection. The following day, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded United Airlines’ fleet of six Dreamliners. Shortly after, other government aviation agencies followed. As Boeing works around the clock to find a solution to the battery problems, the media continues to report on every development of the Dreamliner saga. Many are questioning who is at fault for the Dreamliner battery problems, and the Seattle Times and the BBC are both blaming Boeing for the issues. Further, the Seattle Times is critical of Boeing by making it appear that Boeing is downplaying the Dreamliner battery problems. Yet, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are often less critical of Boeing, instead blaming the FAA.

The Seattle Times appears to blame Boeing for the Dreamliner battery issues, and they make it seem like Boeing is not admitting how serious the battery problems are. After the Dreamliners were grounded, the Seattle Times published an article on January 19 that comes across as a bit critical of Boeing. When not reporting the economic impact, The Seattle Times journalist, Dominic Gates, only quotes from either current or former Boeing executives with the exception of one airline executive. Gates includes one of the former Boeing executives’ quotes which state, ‘“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone at Boeing who believes the FAA should have grounded [the Dreamliners]…they all believe the airplane is safe…at no stage have they appeared to be open to admitting the seriousness of what’s happened…they are basically still in denial”’ (“At Boeing, Pushback on 787 Groundings”). Further, an airline fleet planning executive is quoted as saying that “he feels ‘very uneasy’ that Boeing minimized the in-flight threat” (Gates, “At Boeing, Pushback on 787 Groundings”). Both the former Boeing executive and the airline executive appear to be concerned that Boeing has softened the seriousness of the battery problem because Boeing is unhappy that the FAA grounded the Dreamliners. Gates explains this through a non-Boeing employee point of view by using both the former Boeing executive and airline executive’s credentials to make this claim. However, the Seattle Times begins to question who is to blame for the Dreamliner battery problems, and, in an article published on February 4th, the Seattle Times published, “But few may realize it was Boeing, not FAA inspectors, that largely vouched for the Dreamliner’s safety” (Song). After making this statement, Song explains how the “self-certification” process Boeing used to certify their Dreamliner works. During the “self-certification” process, the FAA plays more of an administrative role by focusing on the entire system’s safety while Boeing focuses on each individual part (Song). By explaining the “self-certification” process, the Seattle Times makes it seem as if Boeing is at fault for the Dreamliner problems. They infer that it was Boeing’s job to ensure that the lithium-ion batteries would not pose a threat. In mid-March, Boeing proposed a solution to the FAA, and Gates recapped the news conference. Gates explains that, “Two top Boeing executives delivered an unflinching defense of the 787 Dreamliner in a Friday morning news conference in Japan” (“Boeing: ‘No Fire is Possible’ With 787 Battery Fix”). While a fix is good news for Boeing and their Dreamliner customers, Gates continues to be critical of Boeing by saying that they were “unflinching” when explaining the solution. Use of the word “unflinching” makes Boeing appear overly confident that their solution to the battery problem will work, and, by calling the news conference a “defense,” Gates hints that Boeing is still holding a grudge against the FAA because they grounded the Dreamliners. Further, calling it a “defense” makes it seem like Boeing is at fault for the issues. During the course of the battery issues, the Seattle Times reports that Boeing is at fault for the Dreamliner battery problems, and Boeing seems to be softening the serious nature of the battery problems.

Like the Seattle Times, the BBC has also been critical of Boeing. On January 17, 2013, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reported about the 787 Dreamliner safety fears related to the lithium-ion batteries. Wingfield-Hayes’ article may seem objective, but he hints that he believes that the Dreamliner is not the safest aircraft by explaining that, “Grounding aircraft on this scale over safety concerns is rare. The last time the FAA ordered a general grounding of an aircraft model was in 1979” (Wingfield-Hayes). By mentioning how rare it is for the FAA to issue a general grounding, he is able to explain why the aircraft is not safe. The Seattle Times also mentioned how rare a general grounding is, which explains the seriousness of the problems. Wingfield-Hayes also includes a few quotes from Leithen Francis who is a writer for Aviation Week. Francis explains that it was the FAA’s decision to ground the 787, and the safety concerns over the use of lithium-ion batteries could cause other airlines to choose to fly the rival Airbus A330 instead (Wingfield-Hayes). However, Francis does not mention that there are key differences between the Airbus A330 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ranging from the cabin to fuel efficiency, which is why airlines purchased the Dreamliner and not the A330. Additionally, Airbus is preparing to roll out the A350 XWB to eventually replace the Airbus A330 this summer. While remaining critical of Boeing, like the Seattle Times, the BBC mentions that, “Japan’s transport ministry identified the causes of two fuel leaks on a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines” (“Boeing ‘set to Offer Plan to Fix Dreamliner Battery”). The BBC continues to hint that the Dreamliner is not a safe aircraft as they point out other problems the Dreamliners experienced between the battery incidents. Unlike the Seattle Times, the BBC points out this problem which reiterates that the BBC does not think the Dreamliner is safe. The BBC blames Boeing for lack of safety as they explain, “Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has said it will cancel all Boeing 787 flights until at least the end of May, in the latest blow to Boeing” (“Dreamliner: Japan’s ANA Cancels More Boeing 787 Flights”). By referring to the grounding of the Dreamliners as a “blow,” the BBC faults Boeing for the Dreamliner problems. The BBC leads to the belief that All Nippon Airways’ cancellations are Boeing’s responsibility for not providing a reliable product. The BBC is critical of Boeing as they point out that Dreamliner is not a safe aircraft due to various other problems, and, ultimately blame Boeing for the Dreamliner battery problems.

The Wall Street Journal seems to be less critical of Boeing, instead shifting more of the blame to the FAA for lack of over-sight of the certification of the the batteries. In an article published on January 17th, the journalists explain that “Years of tests and deliberations ended in 2007 with the FAA certifying the use of the powerful lithium batteries on 787s” (Ostrower, Pasztor, and Koh). The Wall Street Journal blames the FAA for the Dreamliner problems because the testing phase of the Dreamliner’s certification ended with the FAA certifying the Dreamliner in 2007. Yet, they mention in the next paragraph that “final approval for the 787 also was contingent on Boeing, among other things” (Ostrower, Pasztor, and Koh). By mentioning that the FAA’s certification ended the testing phase of the Dreamliner earlier in the article, the Wall Street Journal believes that the FAA should have identified the potential battery problems. Yet, the Wall Street Journal continues on by saying that “the FAA also required Boeing to demonstrate that [the batteries] design had a way to ‘prevent overheating or overcharging of lithium ion batteries’ even if the automatic disconnect system malfunctioned or failed” (Koh, Ostrower and Pasztor). The Wall Street Journal fingers the FAA for the Dreamliner problems because they believe it was their job to ensure that Boeing had the proper systems in place in case of a failure or malfunction as they gave the final approval. However, the Wall Street Journal makes it sound like that the FAA did not check the battery systems to ensure they were up to regulation. In the article, “Boeing Defends 787 Strongly” that was published on March 15, 2013, the journalists explain that Mike Sinnett, the 787’s chief engineer, said, ‘“thousands upon thousands of planes’ have experienced battery malfunctions, and many of those result ‘in smoke and fire events’” (Pasztor and Ostrower). By including this quote, the Wall Street Journal makes it sound like these problems occur frequently and Boeing is not to blame. By quoting the chief engineer of the 787 program about the frequency of battery problems, the Wall Street Journal uses his credentials to their advantage to call out the FAA as they are making the battery problems appear a bigger deal than they are. However, the Seattle Times and the BBC do not mention what Sinnett said about the frequency of battery problems which allows them to hold Boeing responsible for the battery issues. Unlike the BBC and Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal holds the FAA accountable for the battery problems as they gave the final approval, and they believe that the FAA has overestimated the seriousness of Dreamliner battery problems as these issues occur frequently.

The New York Times seems to hold the FAA responsible for the Dreamliner battery problems. In an article published on January 17, 2013, the New York Times mentions that “While the Federal Aviation Agency has recognized these hazards, it still decided in 2007 to allow Boeing to use them in the 787 as long as the company took a series of protective measures” (Drew, Mouawad, and Wald). The New York Times mentions that the FAA knew about the batteries hazards, but they certified the Dreamliner anyway. By including this, the New York Times blames the FAA for the battery problems because they could have stopped the use of lithium-ion batteries which would have prevented this nightmare for Boeing. Further, the New York Times points out that “At the time, the agency noted that ‘lithium ion batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can lead to self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure’ than conventional batteries” (Drew, Mouawad, and Wald). By pointing out that the FAA noted that the lithium-ion batteries are more hazardous, the New York Times strengthens their argument that the FAA is to blame for the battery problems. The New York Times leads us to believe that the FAA could have prevented the use of the lithium-ion batteries, but they did not prevent Boeing form doing so. After the January 7th battery incident in Boston, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) started investigating the 787 batteries to find the root of the issues. The chairwoman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, said “that before the FAA certified the batteries, Boeing’s tests found no evidence that a short circuit in one of the eight cells could spread to other cells” (Drew and Mouawad). By mentioning her quote, the New York Times shows blame for the FAA because people may start to question if the FAA skipped a step during the certification. As a leader the Dreamliner battery investigation, she has access to the data about the certification process which helps the New York Times blame the FAA skipping a step during the certification process or not scrutinizing Boeing’s data. The New York Times explains, “Ms. Hersman’s comments increase the pressure on the F.A.A. to be tougher on Boeing than it was before” (Drew and Mouawad). The New York Times express that they believe the FAA was not strict on Boeing when certifying the Dreamliner based on Hersman’s comments. By mentioning this, it sounds like the FAA did not do their job, and it helps the New York Times blame the FAA for the battery problems. The New York Times believes that the FAA is at fault for the Dreamliner battery problems because the FAA knew the hazards of using lithium-ion batteries and that the chairwoman of the NTSB does not think the FAA was as tough on Boeing as they should have been.

Boeing has been put in a tough place due to the Dreamliner battery problems which caused a global grounding of the Dreamliner fleet. They are losing enormous amounts of money each day as they look for a fix to the battery issues while their customers are trying to maintain normal operations without their newly acquired Dreamliners. Yet, their customers have had to cancel hundreds of flights and operate older, less fuel efficient, aircraft to maintain normal operations. While the media covering the Dreamliner saga may seem objective, they do tend to pick a side. The Seattle Times and the BBC both seem to hold Boeing more responsible for the Dreamliner battery issues, and the Seattle Times believes that Boeing is downplaying the seriousness of the battery problems. However, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times ultimately cast the FAA as accountable to properly certify the Dreamliner, believing it was the FAA’s job to prevent Boeing from using the lithium-ion batteries as the FAA knew they were hazardous. Even as the 787 likely takes to the skies soon and this story departs the mainstream press, there will be plenty of discussions of accountability behind-the-scenes.

Works Cited

“Boeing ‘set to Offer Plan to Fix Dreamliner Battery.” BBC News. British Broadcasting   Corporation, 22 February 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

“Dreamliner: Japan’s ANA Cancels More Boeing 787 Flights.” BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation, 25 February 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

Drew, Christopher and Jad Mouawad. “U.S. Official Faults F.A.A. for Missing 787 Battery Risk.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 7 February 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

Drew, Christopher, Jad Mouawad, and Matthew L. Wald. “Regulators Around the Globe Ground Boeing 787s.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 January 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

Gates, Dominic. “At Boeing, Pushback on 787 Grounding.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times, 20 January 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

Gates, Dominic. “Boeing: ‘No fire is Possible’ with 787 Battery Fix.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times, 16 March 2013. Web. 16 March 2013.

Ostrower, Jon, Andy Pasztor, and Yoree Koh. “All Boeing Dreamliners are Grounded World-Wide.” The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal, 17 January 2013. Web. 19 March 2013

Pasztor, Andy and Jon Ostrower. “Boeing Defends 787 Strongly.” The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal, 15 March 2013. Web. 19 March 2013

Song, Kyung M. “FAA Faulted for Outsourcing 787 Safety Checks to Boeing.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times, 05 February 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

Wingfield-Hayes, Rupert. “Dreamliners: Boeing 787 Planes Grounded on Safety Fears.” BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation, 17 January 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

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Grounded and Stranded: Where in the World are the Delivered Dreamliners?

Grounded and Stranded: Where in the World are the Delivered Dreamliners?

By, Jack Harty, Correspondent

After an ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner made an emergency landing in Japan on January 15th,  both ANA and JAL immediately grounded their 787 fleets for inspection. Twenty-four hours later, all 50 Dreamliners in revenue service were grounded even if they were a few thousand miles away from home. Airlines have had to cancel flights and scramble to find replacement aircraft in order to cope with the grounding. Depending on the size of the airlines’ 787 fleet, airlines are losing a lot of money. As Boeing continues to look for a solution to the battery issues, we can only speculate how long the Dreamliners will remain grounded.

Now, where do you park 50 787 Dreamliners?

Air India

Air India is planning to sell off their Dreamliners to raise capital. If they are successful, they will take them back on lease for 12 years. On February 4, Air India was allowed to fly their Dreamliners to their maintenance base in Mumbai where they are currently being stored. Also, it has been reported they are in talks with Boeing for compensation.


Delivery Date

Grounded In:



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)



Mumbai (VABB/BOM)

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Boeing Statement on U.S. National Transportation Safety Board 787 Investigation Update

Boeing Statement on U.S. National Transportation Safety Board 787 Investigation Update

News Release Issued: February 7, 2013 4:46 PM EST

SEATTLE, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing (NYSE: BA) welcomes the progress reported by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the 787 investigation, including that the NTSB has identified the origin of the event as having been within the battery. The findings discussed today demonstrated a narrowing of the focus of the investigation to short circuiting observed in the battery, while providing the public with a better understanding of the nature of the investigation.

The company remains committed to working with the NTSB, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our customers to maintain the high level of safety the traveling public expects and that the air transport system has delivered. We continue to provide support to the investigative groups as they work to further understand these events and as we work to prevent such incidents in the future. The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

The 787 was certified following a rigorous Boeing test program and an extensive certification program conducted by the FAA. We provided testing and analysis in support of the requirements of the FAA special conditions associated with the use of lithium ion batteries. We are working collaboratively to address questions about our testing and compliance with certification standards, and we will not hesitate to make changes that lead to improved testing processes and products.

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner delivered to an airline, ANA, on September 25, 2011. Photos of the Event Here.
ANA’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner boards passengers at Tokyo Narita for its inaugural passenger flight in October, 2011.

More images from the inaugural flight here.

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