The Complete Guide to the Dreamliner Relaunch

By Paul Riegler on 11 May 2013
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Air India, ANA, Ethiopian, JAL, LAN, LOT, Qatar, and United 787s Return to the Skies

ANA's Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

ANA’s Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

After four months of hand wringing and headlines, the Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s retrofit battery-system design for the 787 Dreamliner on April 19.   This move allowed Boeing and the eight airlines that operate the high-tech aircraft to begin modifying the 50 that have been delivered and were grounded in January. Ethiopian Airlines became the first operator to restart commercial flights on April 27, followed by Qatar Airways on May 1.

The two largest Dreamliner operators, All Nippon Airways, which owns 17 of the jets, and Japan Airlines, which has seven, are in Japan and will start up flights in June.

Some feel that the FAA moved too quickly, especially since Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood famously said that the Dreamliner “won’t fly until we’re 1,000% sure they are safe to fly.” On Friday, and the Aviation Consumer Action Project petitioned the FAA and DOT to put a two-hour limit from the nearest airport on Dreamliner flights.  The move would eliminate trans-Pacific flight and flights over the North Pole, although trans-Atlantic flights would not be impacted.

If all goes as planned, however, travelers can expect to see all 50 Dreamliners back in service by the end of June.

Here’s an airline-by-airline look at the airline’s plans for their Dreamliners.

Air India

Air India operated a total of six Dreamliners and most were deployed on domestic or regional routes.  The airline has an additional 21 Dreamliners on order.  The Directorate General of Civil Aviation in India moved to allow Air India to resume Dreamliner flights on May 7.  The move followed the successful installation of Boeing’s retrofit battery system on one of Air India’s Dreamliners.  A second Dreamliner should receive the retrofit in mid May.  Dreamliner pilots are undergoing simulator training and the airline plans to run test flights prior to resuming passenger service.  The country’s deputy civil aviation minister, K. C. Venugopal, said in Parliament in early May that Boeing will have to compensate state-run Air India for the losses incurred due to the grounding.

All Nippon Airways

ANA, the launch customer for the Dreamliner, started flying the 787 in late 2011 and currently has the largest fleet at 17 aircraft.  Japanese regulators lifted the grounding of the aircraft on April 26.   On Thursday, it said it would resume Dreamliner flights starting June 1.  The airline began operating test flights in preparation of resuming passenger flights on April 28.  ANA also said it is adding three new Dreamliner routes to overseas destinations, namely Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing and Shanghai and Tokyo (Haneda) to Taipei, and it will resume numerous (but not all) Dreamliner routes including Narita-San Jose and Narita-Seattle flights as well as Haneda-Frankfurt and Haneda-Beijing on the first.

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian was the first airline in Africa to receive a Dreamliner and was the first airline to resume commercial Dreamliner service, with a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on April 27.  The airline currently has four 787s in its fleet.

Click here to continue to Page 2JAL, LAN, LOT, Qatar, and United’s Plans

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