Tui puts contingency plans in place for Dreamliner

Tui puts contingency plans in place for Dreamliner

By Phil Davies

Tui puts contingency plans in place for DreamlinerTui Travel has no plans to cancel its order for 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

But the travel group is having to make contingency plans in case deliveries are delayed following trouble with batteries on 787s flown by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways

Chief executive Peter Long said: “Our view is that this is the right airplane for us and we do not intend to change our order for the aircraft.

“We wait to see that these short-term issues are resolved with the regulatory authorities … but we don’t have visibility around how long that will take.”

He spoke ahead of the US Federal Aviation Administration granting Boeing the go-ahead to carry out 787 test flights.

Tui hopes to introduce the aircraft in May and plans to operate the aircraft on long-haul routes from Manchester, Gatwick, Glasgow and East Midlands to destinations including Florida, Mexico, Barbados, Cuba, Kenya and Thailand.

Long said: “Our priority is running our own programme and we will have to determine whether this is going to happen in May. We are building contingency plans because we have to.”

Regulators around the world grounded the new generation 787 in mid-January after a battery fire in Boston and a second incident involving a battery on a flight in Japan.

The FAA said the test flights will help collect data about battery performance “while the aircraft is airborne”.

A Boeing spokesman said the information will “support the continuing investigations into the cause of the recent 787 battery incidents”.

“We are confident that the 787 is safe to operate for this flight test activity,” he added.

The FAA said it had asked Boeing to conduct extensive pre-flight testing and inspections and that the flights would be conducted “in defined airspace over unpopulated areas”.

But the US National Transportation Safety Board said tests carried out by Boeing on Dreamliner batteries, when they were first certified, missed the high risk of fire.

The tests underestimated the frequency of “smoke events” in the lithium ion batteries.

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said that Boeing’s safety checks suggested that a smoke event would occur less than once every 10 million flight hours.

However, 787s have only clocked up 100,000 hours of flight-time since entering commercial services, and have experienced two battery fires.

Hersman said that “the failure rate was higher than predicted as part of the certification process and the possibility that a short circuit in a single cell could propagate to adjacent cells and result in smoke and fire must be reconsidered”.

Dreamliner probe could take weeks

Dreamliner probe could take weeks

By Phil Davies

Dreamliner probe could take weeksIt may take “weeks” to complete an investigation into battery problems that hit two Boeing 787 Dreamliners, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board.

A battery on a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire, while a malfunction forced an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner to make an emergency landing last month.

The incidents led to the grounding all 50 of the 787s in use. The NTSB said that the battery being used in the 787s may not necessarily be unsafe.

NTSB head Deborah Hersman said: “I would not want to categorically say that these batteries are not safe.

“Any new technology, any new design, there are going to be some inherent risks. The important thing is to mitigate them.”

She added that the NTSB was “running through the macro level to the microscopic level on this battery”. “But I think we are probably weeks away from being able to tell people here’s what exactly happened and what needs to change.”

A Boeing spokesman told the BBC the firm was “choosing not to comment on Ms Hersman’s remarks as the matter was under active investigation”.

Meanwhile, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said problems with the 787 had done nothing to alter the airline’s orders and options for 50 Dreamliners.

He told broadcaster ABC in Australia: “We believe that Boeing are a great airline manufacturing company, they’re a great engineering company and they will fix this problem eventually.

“They’re still producing the aircraft, so the production line hasn’t stopped. They have stopped delivering aircraft to customers.

“Our aircraft are due to arrive, the first one in August. We haven’t been advised of any delay at this stage.”

Boeing vows to continue production of Dreamliner

Boeing vows to continue production of Dreamliner

By Ian Taylor


Boeing vows to continue production of DreamlinerBoeing intends to deliver more than 60 Dreamliners to airlines this year despite the aircraft being grounded since mid-January by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

That may offer little comfort to Thomson Airways as it awaits delivery of its first 787 next month.

The FAA grounded the aircraft following a fire on a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston and an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 in Japan.

Boeing has suspended deliveries while investigations proceed in the US and Japan, focused on the lithium-ion batteries used as part of the 787’s power system.

However, Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney said yesterday: “Production of the 787 continues as planned. We remain confident in the integrity of the programme and the safety of the aircraft.”

He told analysts: “We will get to the bottom of this and restore confidence.”

McNerney was speaking as Boeing presented full year results and guidance for 2013, with the company reporting 2012 was its second-best year ever for orders and deliveries.

However, he did so as the two Japanese carriers involved revealed they had repeatedly changed the 787 batteries which are the focus of investigation.

ANA said it had changed the batteries 10 times because of problems in advance of the emergency landing this month.

McNerney refused to comment on speculation the aircraft could be grounded for an extended period as investigators have so far failed to identify the cause of the problem.

He said: “We can’t predict the outcome. We are making progress. We have every expert in the world looking at this issue. Our plan is to continue production of the 787.

“I can’t talk about particulars of the investigation. But I am confident we will identify the root cause of these incidents. When we have the answer we will act on it.”

Thomson Airways, part of Tui Travel, is awaiting news of the investigation with special interest. It is set to be the first UK airline to operate the 787 and was due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late February.

Boeing declined to comment on deliveries to specific customers, but a February delivery appears highly unlikely.

McNerney said: “We are limited in what we can say. We deeply regret the impact on customers.”

Thomson has also declined to comment on the delivery date until it receives notification of any changes from Boeing.

However, McNerney revealed Boeing plans to increase production of the 787 from the current five a month to seven a month by mid-2013 and to 10 a month by the end of the year.