The 787 grounding has now been in place for a month and it looks like Boeing faces months more. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated that it will be weeks before it identifies the causes of the thermal runaway in the 787’s lithium-ion-batteries. Boeing conducted a second test flight of the 787 from Seattle’s Boeing field across Washington state last Monday for an hour and 29 minutes. The flight was uneventful. Boeing advised that the flight data is being analysed but did not release any details.
Boeing is basically guaranteed not to be able to deliver anywhere near their original 2013 target of 60 planes. Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced that Boeing will not deliver their first two aircraft due April and June with no new target date available. The 787 is the key to their future expansion as they launch their first ever long haul routes. Other airlines due to get their first 787s in 2013 were:
- Air China
- British Airways – expecting four from May
- China Southern Airlines
- Thompson expecting five from February
The existing operators All Nippon Airways, Ethiopian (1) Japan Airlines, Air India, LOT Polish Airlines (3) , LAN, Qatar Airways and United Airlines are all due to receive more planes to add to their existing 787 fleets. This means they will need to set about finding other aircraft to fill the shortfall caused by the grounding,
LOT president Sebastian Mikosz has announced that their two 787s will be grounded until October as they cannot expect to be able to schedule them for the European summer. This is a blow for the financially troubled carrier which was relying in part on the 787 to revitalise its business. One of their planes is in Warsaw and the other in Washington DC where it had arrived after its maiden voyage to the USA.
In the meantime, Airbus have announced they will not use lithium-ion-batteries on the new Airbus 350 XWB instead using “the proven and mastered” nickel cadmium main batteries. Boeing have said they are still “confident in the safety and reliability of the lithium-ion batteries,“. We shall see.