April 22, 2013
Credit: Joe Walker
Boeing engineers have started installing the battery fix kits which will return its grounded fleet of 787s to operations.
According to Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 Program at Boeing, engineers began working on 787s in Japan on April 22. The kits, which take five days to install, are being fitted to aircraft in the sequence of their delivery, with All Nippon Airlines and Japan Airlines being the first to benefit from the program.
According to Loftis, speaking at a press conference in London, the company is deploying 300 engineers, in 10 teams, to sites around the world to fix the 50 787s currently on the ground.
The fix, certified by the FAA on April 19, uses a 1/8 in. stainless steel box to hold the batteries. Along with wiring and venting, the kit adds a 150 lb. weight penalty.
The move comes just over three months after the 787 was grounded following battery failures on a Japan Airlines aircraft at Boston Logan International Airport Jan. 7, and on an ANA flight which diverted to Takamatsu Airport during a Jan. 15 flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Yamaguchi Ube Airport in western Japan.
“We have been in constant communication with airlines,” said Loftis. “We will support whatever and wherever the airlines want us to do the mods.”
“We are committed to work on the airplanes wherever they want us to do it,” he added.
Loftis said the crisis had not impacted any plans to ramp up production of the aircraft or new developments, such as the stretched -9. The company plans to produce 10 aircraft a month by the end of the year. Work on an initial ramp-up to seven aircraft per month has started, with the first aircraft in that phase now on the production line.
The first -9 aircraft is set to go through final assembly in May. The new containment system will be incorporated into the new variant prior to its first flight.