April 26, 2013
Japan’s All Nippon Airways will conduct a test flight of Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner on Sunday, as it prepares to bring back passengers on a plane that was grounded across the world following incidents of batteries overheating.
The test flight by ANA, the Dreamliner’s top customer, comes after U.S. and Japanese authorities gave approval for flights to resume and will be the first of some 230 flights the airline has planned before allowing the jet to carry passengers.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Connor and ANA Group CEO Shinichiro Ito will be on board Sunday’s flight.
ANA has yet to decide when commercial flights would restart, President Osamu Shinobe said, but he reiterated the Dreamliner would remain a core part of its fleet strategy.
“I believe that safety has been secured now, but only by flying the 787 smoothly will we be able to demonstrate its safety and reassure our passengers,” Hiroyuki Ito, ANA senior executive vice president, told reporters.
Local rival Japan Airlines Co Ltd said it would start its own test programme from May with the aim of using the jets to carry passengers again from June.
“We have had this trouble with the 787, but it is a great aircraft,” JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki told reporters. JAL has seven Dreamliner planes.
On Saturday, Boeing will hold a news conference in Tokyo. Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s chief project engineer for the 787, is scheduled to brief media.
Ethiopian Airlines is set to become the world’s first carrier to resume flying the Dreamliner, with a commercial flight on Saturday to neighbouring Kenya, two airline sources told Reuters on Wednesday.