After technical problems, Boeing's ultra-green Dreamliner plane could finally  be coming to UK "within weeks"

By Travelmail Reporter

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The fleet has been grounded for months after being beleaguered by technical problems but Boeing has announced that its ultra-green Dreamliner plane could finally be in operation in the UK “within weeks”.

Holiday airline Thomson had hoped to operate the ultra-green Boeing 787 Dreamliner from May, while next month would also have seen British Airways take delivery of the first of 24 Dreamliners.

But earlier this year battery smoke emanating from two Dreamliner planes operated by Japanese carriers led to a grounding of the world's 787 fleet and a halt to all deliveries.

Deliveries of the beleaguered Boeing 787 Dreamliner are set to resume, although the root cause of battery failures on two of the planes is still unknown

Modifications: Deliveries of the beleaguered Boeing 787 Dreamliner are set to resume, although the root cause of battery failures on two of the planes is still unknown

Now, American aviation authority the FAA has approved the battery improvement work done by Boeing and the Seattle-based company is modifying its 787s in preparation for a return to service.

At a briefing in London yesterday, Boeing's 787 programme vice president and general manager Larry Loftis said: "It is possible we may never know the root cause (of the battery failure)."

But he added that Boeing was confident the improvement work would ensure the safety of the aircraft.

Mr Loftis said he could not give an exact date when UK carriers or other world airlines would get their delayed planes.

 

However, he added that Boeing was having "detailed conversations" with airlines and that planes could be delivered "within weeks".

Boeing said it will begin retro-fitting planes with an enhanced lithium ion battery system and has stationed teams around the world to begin installing the fix.

The revamped system includes additional insulation around each of the battery's eight cells to prevent a short circuit or fire in one of the cells from spreading to the others. It also includes enhanced venting of smoke and gas from inside the battery to outside the plane.

The battery will be contained in a strengthened box to ensure that, if a fire were to occur, it wouldn't escape to the rest of the plane.

Boeing's 'improved' 787 battery (front) and its titanium-made case (rear), were revealed in March

Updates: Boeing's 'improved' 787 battery (front) and its titanium-made case (rear), were revealed in March

Thomson had already announced the scrapping of its plans to operate the Dreamliner in May and June this year.

The first Thomson Dreamliners were due to operate out of Glasgow, Manchester, Gatwick and East Midlands Airports, flying to Cancun in Mexico and Orlando in Florida, from May 1.

Thomson, which is due to receive eight Dreamliners, is the UK launch customer for the plane and had been promoting trips on the 787, which can seat between 210 and 290 passengers on medium-range routes.

British Airways' Dreamliners will replace the carrier's Boeing 767s, with the first four due to arrive this year, while Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to get the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.

The 787 is Boeing's most technologically advanced plane and is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium ion batteries, which are lighter, recharge faster and can hold more energy than other types of batteries.

As a result, Boeing claims, the plane is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than other mid-sized airliners. Passengers are also promised a smoother and quieter flight, which will in turn reduce jetlag.

The windows of its cabin can be darkened and its green technology means that the air in the cabin is cleaner, which means that there is less chance of dehydration.

At a preview in Singapore, journalists are shown the LED lighting system on the Dreamliner plane, which is aimed at reducing jet-lag

Highlights: At a preview in Singapore, journalists are shown the LED lighting system on the Dreamliner plane, which is aimed at reducing jet-lag

But, in a further blow to Boeing, British Airways has announced that it has ordered 18 new A350 aircraft from Boeing's rival Airbus as part of a move to phase out a fleet of 30 Boeing aircraft over the next 10 years.

The order, announced by BA's parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), allows for an option of a further 18 A350 aeroplanes.

As well as its new Airbus aircraft, IAG plans to place firm orders on 18 Boeing 787s, which together will be used to replace BA's fleet of 30 Boeing 747-400 planes between 2017 and 2023.

The order for the Airbus A350s will be a welcome boost to Britain's aviation industry.

The aircraft are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, and the deal is worth 1.6 billion US dollars (£1.04 billion), the company said.

Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, said: "The A350-1000 will bring many benefits to our fleet. Its size and range will be an excellent fit for our existing network and, with lower unit costs, there is an opportunity to operate a new range of destinations profitably.

"This will not only bring greater flexibility to our network but also more choice for our customers.

"This order will also secure jobs in Britain and Spain. The A350's wings are made in Britain while its horizontal tail plane, horizontal tail plane boxes and lower wing covers are made in Spain. Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines are assembled in Britain."


 

The comments below have not been moderated.

I am meant to be flying to Cancun with Thomson on a dreamliner on 30th August, is it likely they will be running by then?

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Such a technical achievement has had problems, yes. But what a magnificent machine with an astounding performance relative to its' predecessors. Well done Boeing to handle the issues openly and with integrity.

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According to the article, Boeing do not know the "root cause" of the battery fires and the only solution they offer is to mitigate the effects of a fire which, on the basis of recent events, is a statistical certainty. Any airline buying this plane is courting the biggest commercial disaster in the history of aviation. - Mustafa Larf, Southall, United Kingdom, 23/4/2013 20:20 Man, you are a real genius ! 14 airlines have ordered 862 planes and none of them has cancelled a single order since..You know something that the whole aviation industry is not aware of..WOW...What a great mind !

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It's the same as McDonald Hamburgers, Scandal....

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Not like a British company to spend millions on defective equipment. Why didn't they buy the Airbus? Probably have to suck up to the yanks! - Sumner , Kabul, 24/4/2013 02:39 Mate, my national airline Turkish has ordered 117 airbus last week just to suck up to the European Union.. As you know our government is trying to be full member of the EU .LOL ,nobody believes they will accept Turkey but anyway . Ask Turkish Airlines pilots,they would chose overwhelmingly the B737-800 over the A320 any day. Turkish operates both, Boeing 737 has far superior reliability and less operating and maintenance cost than A320.

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Right - so Concorde has a problem after (how many years flying?) and we have to scrap it, Boeing have a problem after a couple of weeks and they are going to fly over my house? - Geoff , Birmingham, 23/4/2013 18:13 LOL..You are an idiot..What a stupid comparision? ..The gas guzzling Concorde was scrapped because the airliners couldn't attract rich cutomers with deep pockets anymore who were ready to pay outrageous amount of money to arrive 3 hours earlier at New York !!! ..It was bankrupt..Rumor has it that apart from 2-3 exceptional years ,Concorde never earned a dime since its introduction in 1976.To your information,Concorde generated at least 10 times more noise than Dreamliner so you can sleep in peace.

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I recall the disastrous early days of the Comet airliner, and I'll wait a while before I'm tempted onto this plastic aeroplane. - peterbj7 , Oxford, 23/4/2013 15:47****Just for you, I will say again. The most dangerous part of your whole journey is the trip to the airport. You are far more likely to be injured of killed in a car crash within one mile of your home.

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...hi, reading all of this from an American perspective...seven 787s flew zillions of miles around the Earth during the testing phase of a year and a half with no battery (or other) significant issues...launch customer ANA flew their fleet for over two million passenger miles without mishap...the batteries don't function during flight, they are used for ground-based requirements...it's probably a manufacturing issue with the batteries which will be rectified and the planes will be flying again...the Airbus A380 has had cracked wings (!!!) and at least two, catastrophic engine explosions during flight and AFTER five years in passenger service...NOTHING that has occurred with the B787 can approach the Airbus record...the B787 is a technological marvel and will advance aviation technology for decades...get over it...

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...hi, reading all of this from an American perspective...seven 787s flew zillions of miles around the Earth during the testing phase of a year and a half with no battery (or other) significant issues...launch customer ANA flew their fleet for over two million passenger miles without mishap...the batteries don't function during flight, they are used for ground-based requirements...it's probably a manufacturing issue with the batteries which will be rectified and the planes will be flying again...the Airbus A380 has had cracked wings (!!!) and at least two, catastrophic engine explosions during flight and AFTER five years in passenger service...NOTHING that has occurred with the B787 can approach the Airbus record...the B787 is a technological marvel and will advance aviation technology for decades...get over it...

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They should not be using a lithium power source. They had that on the starship Enterprise and it was always going wrong.

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