Boeing 787 Dreamliner is back in business
By: Ruchi Shroff
Ethiopian Airlines on April 27 became the world's first carrier to resume flying Boeing's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets in three months on the Addis Ababa-Nairobi route, Reuters has reported.
U.S. regulators approved a new battery design last week, clearing the way for installation and a resumption of Dreamliner flights by airlines around the world. It is still unclear what caused the fires on the 787s back in December.
The changes include a revamped battery less prone to heat build-up, a redesigned charger and a stainless-steel enclosure capable of withstanding an explosion and equipped with a metal exhaust tube to vent fumes and gases outside the jet, if the battery overheats.
The grounding of the Dreamliner fleet has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million, halted deliveries of the aircraft and forced some airlines to lease alternative planes. The Dreamliner cost an estimated $20 billion to develop and represents a quantum leap forward in design, offering a 20% reduction in fuel burn and added cabin comforts such as higher humidity, larger windows and modern styling.
Meanwhile Japan's transport ministry has approved Boeing's battery solution, paving the way for the aircraft's largest handlers to resume services. All Nippon Airways tested its first plane with the new batteries today and reportedly has plans to have 230 test flights through May before resuming commercial operations. Japan Airlines will start test flights next month and resume services in June.