RTT News (United States)
February 4, 2013
Boeing Co. is proceeding with plans to make a stretch version of its grounded Dreamliner 787 jet, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Boeing is moving ahead with manufacture of the new Dreamliner model, called the 787-9, even though the 50 787 Dreamliner jets in service worldwide remain grounded due to battery problems. Investigators are currently looking into a series of electrical fires that involved the jet's ion-lithium batteries.
The light-weight Dreamliner planes have been in high demand in the commercial aviation industry, especially in Japan, since its launch in December 2009. Boeing made its first delivery of the 787-8 to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd., one of its important customers, in September 2011.
The 787 was touted as Boeing's future, as it is the company's most fuel-efficient aircraft and also the world's first major airplane to use composite materials for most of its construction.
However, in January, a 787 operated by Japan Airlines suffered a battery fire while parked at a Boston airport. The Japanese carrier attributed the emission of smoke to a battery malfunction.
In mid-January, All Nippon Airways grounded its fleet of 17 Boeing 787s for inspection after a lithium-ion battery in a 787 flight overheated and forced an emergency landing of the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA then issued an airworthiness directive that led to all in-service 787s in the U.S. temporarily ceasing operations.
But Boeing said in late January that it would continue production of the 787 Dreamliner while its deliveries were suspended until clearance was granted by the FAA.
Boeing is also likely to continue work on the new Dreamliner model, partly due to its expected higher price tag and due to the need to avoid supply chain problems that delayed first deliveries of the existing Dreamliner by more than three years.
The 787-9 will carry about 40 more passengers and fly slightly farther than the current Dreamliner model, which carries around 250. The 787-9 will reportedly use the same electrical system and lithium-ion batteries as the current model.
The company hopes to deliver the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand PLC by early next year.
Boeing closed Friday's trading at $74.87, up $1.00 or 1.35% on a volume of 6.75 million shares.
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