Work is now underway to correct the delivery schedule. Production of the aircraft has continued throughout the grounding; according to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network fleets database, some 34 aircraft that were either awaiting delivery when the crisis began, or which have been assembled over the past four months, also need to be modified.
“We are in conversations right now, but there is no firm delivery schedule laid out,” said Loftis, but he added that he was confident that the first delivery would be “within weeks.”
“Our plan right now is that all the airplanes we planned to deliver in 2013 will be delivered in 2013,” he added.
With the certification of the fix behind it, the company also is using the downtime to install several other fixes and procedural changes to the aircraft which have affected availability. It also plans to restart “dialogue” with the FAA on the aircraft’s 330 min. extended twin engine operations capability. The 180 min. capability has been retained with the battery fix certificate.
Work is also continuing to reduce the weight of the modification.
Loftis said he was so confident of the fix that he would happily put his family on the aircraft. Even though a root cause continues to elude engineers, Loftis says the containment method is “more robust” than simply fixing the root cause, but adds that the company is still open to ideas for new design solutions.
“We have encompassed the known universe of potential causes,” explained Loftis. “If a root cause is defined, the first thing we will do is ask how our design solution fits, and if the answer doesn’t fit, we will aggressively pursue new design solutions for it.
“We are more than willing to do that,” he said.