Dreamliners could be cleared to fly again from today

Boeing, the US-based airplane manufacturer, is poised today for the news that its troubled aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, has been cleared to fly again.

If, as rumours are suggesting, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes the announcement that it is satisfied with improvements that have been made to the safety of the aircraft’s batteries, it will bring to an end the Dreamliner’s 3 months of enforced grounding.

According to the Wall Street Journal, officials at the FAA approve of new technical measures to solve the aircraft’s overheating battery problem, including a protective metal container to prevent fires and dispose of smoke and toxic fumes. Assuming that aviation officials in other countries follow the FAA’s lead, Dreamliners could resume their operational schedules as early as next month.

The only delays to the process are likely to be the time that it takes Boeing to issue a service bulletin to instruct affected airlines on how to update the battery systems, the time that it takes the airlines to carry out the work – estimated to be just a few days, and flight testing and refresher training for pilots.

Problems with the aircraft’s overheating lithium-ion batteries first emerged in January this year, after two Japanese airlines reported that one battery had melted and another had caught fire. There followed a worldwide grounding of the aircraft, and new deliveries from Boeing’s full order book for the popular plane were also brought to a halt. The three interceding months have seen frantic efforts to isolate the problem that have culminated in today’s expected announcement.

Confirmation of BA’s Dreamliner order

UK-based airline, British Airways, has confirmed the order that it will be placing with US airplane builder, Boeing, for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

BA has confirmed an order for 18 Dreamliners, with a total order value in the region of $4 billion. BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), has already ordered 24 of the aircraft as well as 12 Airbus A380’s as part of the fleet modernisation plan that it initiated six years ago. The new aircraft will be replacing some of BA’s Boeing 747-400 fleet between 2017 and 2021, according to IAG.

BA’s order has been confirmed as Boeing comes close to completing tests on a new lithium-ion battery system for the Dreamliner to replace the original system that was prone to overheating. Resolving the problem will not only mean that operational aircraft that have been grounded since the problem arose should soon be able to resume service again, but also that Boeing will be able to recommence deliveries from its current order book of 841 Dreamliners.

Speaking today, Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said, ‘British Airways has 24 Boeing 787s on order already and we plan to boost this by a further 18 aircraft by exercising our options. The aircraft offers a step change in fuel burn efficiency versus our existing aircraft with improvements in fuel cost per seat of more than 20 per cent. New technology engines and improved aerodynamics will lower fuel burn leading to reduced carbon and NOx emissions.

‘The creation of IAG has resulted in greater buying power for both airlines through joint procurement and we have been able to obtain delivery slots for Iberia as part of British Airways’ order.’

Thomson forced to delay Dreamliner debut

Thomson Holidays, a UK-based travel operator and subsidiary of Tui Travel Plc, has been forced to postpone the planned introduction of Boeing’s problematic 787 Dreamliner aircraft for its summer schedules.

Thomson was proud to promote itself as the first UK airline to have the state-of-the-art, eco-friendly aircraft available for passengers to experience, to the extent that it had applied a £10 supplement to flights where it was utilised, but on-going technical difficulties that have plagued manufacturer, Boeing, have put back the 787’s delivery for at least 2 months. Passengers that have paid the £10 supplement for flights from May this year, when the aircraft were originally intended to go into service, will now receive a refund from the travel company, as they will not now be available until July at the earliest.

Thomson has ordered eight Dreamliners, an aircraft that is lauded for its quietness and fuel-efficiency. However, technical problems, including over-heating batteries experienced by two Japanese airlines that were among the first to take delivery of the aircraft earlier this year, have resulted in all operational aircraft being grounded and new deliveries being postponed.

A spokesman for Thomson was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘Our dedicated customer service team is in the process of contacting all customers impacted to inform them that they will now be travelling on Thomson Airways (Boeing) 767 long-haul aircraft, which have premium cabins.

‘The supplement paid for the 787 Dreamliner flight will be refunded to those customers who proceed with their original holiday bookings, and customers will also have the option to amend their holiday without incurring any amendment fees.

‘We understand how frustrating and disappointing this news will be for those customers looking forward to flying on the 787 Dreamliner. We are equally as disappointed that Boeing was not able to confirm a delivery date for us but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control.’

Thomson likely to delay Dreamliner Launch

Thomson Airways might be forced to introduce contingency plans if the scheduled launch of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner service has to be delayed due to technical issues.

The airline had intended to commence its Dreamliner service in May this year, but technical checks that are currently being carried out on the aircraft in Japan and the USA have led to the 50 Dreamliner’s that are currently in service around the globe being grounded because of safety issues.

Thomson has yet to be given a delivery date by Boeing for its first Dreamliner, which is just one of 800 orders that are currently suspended awaiting the outcome of the safety checks. The airline had intended to use the aircraft on flights to Mexico and Florida.

In a statement on the issue, Thomson Airways said, ‘We appreciate that there are many customers who are looking forward to flying on the Dreamliner but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control.Once we have finalised our contingency plans we will contact customers whose flights may be affected.’

Doubts about the aircraft’s safety arose when a Japan Airline 787 Dreamliner was forced to land following a fire in its on-board battery. Subsequent technical checks on the causes are believed to be veering away from the fault being with the battery itself, but rather the electrical system that monitors its charging, voltage and temperature.

Boeing has been promoting the Dreamliner as the first airliner to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes, and while cooperating with the investigations, they remain confident of the aircraft’s safety.

Boeing Dreamliner Battery May Not Be At Fault

Boeing, the US based aircraft manufacturer, has been cooperating with US and Japanese investigators to discover the problem with its next generation Dreamliner 787 aircraft, and recent report suggests that the fault may be with the aircraft’s electrical components.

Earlier, airlines had grounded the aircraft globally, on fears regarding its airworthiness, following incidents of its onboard battery catching fire. Two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, were the first of many to ground their Dreamliner aircraft and commence an investigation into the safety standards of the aircraft, claimed to be the first to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had also issued an emergency airworthiness directive for temporary suspension of operations for all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the US, a decision that resulted in the grounding of all Dreamliners flown by United Airlines.

Recent investigations suggest that the fault may not be with the battery used onboard the aircraft, but with the electrical system that monitors battery voltage, charging and temperature.

The Japanese transport ministry official, Shigeru Takano, said in an interview with the BBC, ‘We have found no major quality or technical problem with the lithium-ion batteries.’

Currently, Boeing has around 800 planes on its production line, due to heavy demand for the aircraft from commercial and military organisations across the world.

The aircraft is claimed to offer greater fuel efficiency from its lightweight, as well as customisable interiors, cleaner air, a lower cabin altitude, high humidity, better windows, and more overhead storage space for aircraft passengers, making it the most sought after next generation aircraft, prior to its recent problems.

Dreamliner battery not at fault

The worldwide investigation into Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft amidst fears regarding its safety has concluded that the airplane’s battery is not at fault as first thought.

US safety officials have ruled out overcharging as the cause of the battery fire, and are now focusing on the aircraft’s battery charger and auxiliary power unit.

UK airlines Thomson Airways and British Airways are both scheduled to receive their first Dreamliner aircraft in May this year, but this is now in doubt since – as of Friday January 18 – Boeing has put deliveries of the aircraft on hold until the Federal Aviation Administration has approved its plan to assure the battery’s safety.

The global grounding of Dreamliner aircraft came last week after Japan-based All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing during one of its flights when a warning light came on in the cockpit and indicated a battery problem. Japanese investigators said that the problem could be due to an overcharging battery, but the US National Transportation Safety Board has now said that overcharging was not the cause of the incident.

In a statement, the NTSB said, ‘Examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B787 airplane indicates that the APU (auxiliary power unit) battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.’

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s commercial aircraft marketing vice president, commented, ‘The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service. According to the FAA’s recent announcement, operations can resume once airlines have demonstrated the batteries are safe. Boeing is working with the FAA to define that process and timeline.’

All Dreamliner Aircraft Grounded

All 50 Boeing Dreamliner aircraft that are currently in service for various global airlines have been grounded, with Ethiopian Airlines becoming the latest of the airlines to ground its fleet.

The airlines are grounding the aircraft due to fears for its airworthiness following incidents of its onboard battery catching fire. This week two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, became the first to ground their Dreamliner aircraft and begin an investigation into its safety standards. The Dreamliner is touted to be the first to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes.

The USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency airworthiness directive for the temporary suspension of operations for all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the US, a decision that has resulted in the grounding of all Dreamliners flown by United Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines has stated, ‘Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators.

However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.’

In a statement defending the airworthiness of Dreamliners, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer, Jim McNerney, said, ‘The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.

We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.’

British Airways Announces New Seating

British Airways (BA), a premier airline from the UK, is offering new seating arrangements for its new Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can seat around 214 passengers, while the Airbus A380 aircraft, the biggest aircraft owned by the airline, can seat around 469 passengers.

The eight 787-8s will include a new Club World seating of 2:3:2 layout, as well as the newest World Traveller and World Traveller Plus seats, while the new A380 will have an improved edition of First Class.

The 24 Dreamliner aircraft and 12 A380s feature new cabin designs, similar to ones currently featured on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) and parent company of Britsih Airways, said, ‘We are investing GBP5bn in British Airways’ new and upgraded aircraft, innovative technologies and customer services.

We now have six Boeing 777-300ERs, all fitted with our latest cabins. Our customer feedback and satisfaction scores show the seat and cabin designs have achieved the highest ratings we have ever seen.

By next spring we will have finished installing our new First cabins. The nine new aircraft we take delivery of in 2013 will feature our latest signature designs to ensure the customer experience maintains the highest standard across our fleet.’

Both new aircraft will also include Thales in-flight entertainment system, with a choice of 50% more movies, 200% more TV programmes, and more music; and new larger screens in all cabins with ports to connect personal devices.

The initial British Airways Dreamliner is expected to be delivered in May 2013, and three more by end of the year. The new A380 will be delivered also in 2013, along with two new 777-300ERs aircraft for the airline.

Thomson Announces Launch of Summer 2013 Programme

Thomson Holidays, the UK based travel company, has launched its brand new summer 2013 programme brochure.

The new brochure includes the debut of the Thomson Airways 787 Dreamliner, new and exclusive hotel offers, like the new Sensatori and Thomson Couples hotel experiences, and new cruise destinations.

Thomson Airways, an airline owned by the travel company, has taken delivery of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which from May 1, 2013 will fly its customers to Cancun, in Mexico and Sanford, in Florida, US, from the Manchester, London Gatwick, East Midlands and Glasgow airports in the UK. The company is also offering a new addition to the Sensatori Collection of luxury hotels, with the Sensatori Turkey, located in Sorgun, Turkey, and there will be six new hotel additions to its global hotel portfolio for the summer of 2013.

From May 2013, 90 percent of holidays offered by the company will only be available for sale to UK customers through the company’s own sources, and summer 2013 holidays go on sale from April 26, 2012.

Garry Wilson, the company purchasing and product director, said, ‘Summer 2013 is shaping up to be one of our most exciting launches ever. We are thrilled that our customers are going to be able to experience the benefits of travelling on the Dreamliner on our most popular long haul routes. We know that this addition to our fleet will set us apart from our competition and we’ll be able to give our customers the best possible start to their holidays.

In line with our strategy of offering customers holidays they cannot get elsewhere, we’ve been working to ensure that more hotels than ever are being offered exclusively by Thomson to our customers in the UK.’