TOKYO – The grounded Dreamliner is "absolutely" safe and will be back in the air within weeks, planemaker Boeing said in Japan today, as it sought to reassure airlines and passengers about its aircraft.
The 50 planes grounded around the world since two battery malfunctions sparked a global no-fly order in mid-January will get fixes to their systems and be operational again soon, senior executives said. "I get often asked if I think the airplane is still safe. My answer is simple: absolutely," Mike Sinnett, the chief project engineer on the 787, told reporters.
The Dreamliner "is among the safest airplanes our company has ever produced," he added.
Sinnett was speaking as part of a push by the manufacturer to explain how it planned to remedy problems that have badly knocked confidence in one of the world's most advanced aircraft.
The company chose to give its first public explanation of the fix in Japan, home to two of its biggest customers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines and to suppliers who make around a third of the aircraft's parts.
Sinnett said an investigation into the incidents in the United States and Japan had proved the aircraft's safety measures had kicked in properly. "After the battery failure the airplane responded in exactly the way we had designed and anticipated," he said.
Sinnett said there had been no fire inside the battery on either aircraft, and what appeared to the untrained eye to be smoke was electrolyte venting from the cells.
Ray Connor, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told reporters the fixes the company had put in place and which were now undergoing flight testing would mean the aircraft was back in the skies soon.
"We are going to be dependent upon as we move through the certification process. We will determine when we actually get back in the air in terms of flights," he said. "Previously as I have been anticipating that in months, we are talking more along the line of weeks," he said. --AFP