Boeing has informed airlines that further deliveries of its fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner could be delayed, just days after Qantas’s chief Alan Joyce threw his support behind the troubled aircraft. Meanwhile, regulators are continuing to investigate overheating batteries that prompted the model’s grounding.
The Dreamliner, of which 50 have been delivered to date, has been grounded since January following a lithium-ion battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane in Boston and an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways jet in Japan, prompting the US Federal Aviation Administration to issue a global alert. Governments in the US, Japan, India and Europe all grounded the planes.
US regulators said Boeing can conduct test flights to determine the cause, Bloomberg reported. Boeing said it has informed customers expecting 787 deliveries in the near term that those aircraft either have been or are at risk of being delayed.
Days before Boeing talked about delays, Joyce of Qantas reinforced his commitment to introducing the planes to the Australian fleet, despite recent problems, reported Industry Week. Qantas is waiting on an order of 14 Dreamliners, which are designed to use 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized planes.
At the time, Joyce said although Boeing had stopped delivering the Dreamliner to customers, the company was still producing the aircraft. He said Boeing would fix the problem eventually.
An analysis released by Lux Research last month said Boeing should have chosen a safer type of lithium-ion battery for its 787 Dreamliner planes. Lux says the Dreamliner uses a high-energy battery inherently at risk of thermal runaway, and should switch to an alternate type of lithium-ion battery.
Boeing would not say whether it agreed with the research firm’s assessment, stating only, “We are supporting the investigations that will determine the cause of the recent incidents involving 787 batteries. Until those investigations conclude, we can’t speculate on what the results might be.”