Readers aren’t convinced that Boeing has turned the corner on the planned 787 battery fixes detailed last week in two press conferences.
The results come as some surprise to us. Despite some messaging we thought fell short, we felt overall Boeing outlined a pretty strong set of fixes that were done probably in concert with the FAA Seattle office. We published polling Monday; here are the results as of this morning. These are actually worse than our polling a month ago, when readers were evenly split whether they would resume flying the 787 when it returns to service.
Clearly, Boeing and the airlines have a job to do with public perception to restore confidence in the airplane.
These polls admittedly are not scientific.
|No, Boeing still hasn’t gone far enough||55%|
|Yes, the press conferences outlined good solutions||28%|
|I don’t know||17%|
|Yes, I now have confidence in the 787 and the solution||34%|
|No, I still want to wait 1-2 years for proof||51%|
|Maybe–I’m not sure||15%|
|Weeks, like Boeing thinks||7%|
KING 5 News (Seattle, NBC) reported that the 787 test flight planned for yesterday did not happen, but had no explanation. An aerospace engineer we asked said, “I would gather that since this is a “one shot to get it right” flight, BA is being rather overly cautious. So I imagine it doesn’t take much for them to cancel a flight and wait for optimal conditions.”
Timing seems critical, however, if Boeing is to meet its goal of returning the 787 to service soon.
Reuters had this yesterday:
Boeing last week unveiled a new battery system and predicted the 787 would fly again within weeks rather than months.
Asked whether Boeing was presenting a best-case scenario, Osamu Shinobe, the architect of All Nippon Airways’ strategy to put the fuel-efficient 787 at the centre of the airline’s fleet planning, said, “That’s what we understand it to be.”
“The problem is we don’t know how long the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will take to finish its checks (on the new battery system),” he said in an interview.
For Boeing to meet its target, Shinobe explained the plane maker needs to complete certification testing this week, and gain quick FAA approval followed by an airworthiness directive soon after. It would then have to transport all the parts and equipment to 787s parked around the world to begin installing the new batteries. Boeing has said that could take a week per plane.
A side note: Weather conditions this week in the Seattle area are forecast to be pretty abysmal, with sometimes heavy rains and high winds. Whether this will be a factor for the test flight is unknown.
Bloomberg has this today:
Norwegian Air is among airlines affected by the idling of the global Dreamliner fleet on Jan. 16 in the wake of incidents with lithium-ion batteries. While Boeing has proposed a fix, it hasn’t given new delivery dates for planes the Oslo-based company should get from April, Kjos said in an interview.
“There’ll be a delay that hits us on the first two aircraft,” Kjos said. Norwegian Air has leased two Airbus SAS A340s to provide cover, one for two months, the other for three, during which time the 787s should arrive, he said.
This suggests NAS doesn’t expect its 787s until June or July at the earliest.