Boeing 'confident' of returning 787 to service soon

Washington DC
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Boeing is confident that a 787 battery fix it proposed to US regulators will get the grounded aircraft back in the air soon.

"We are very close... and we are very confident in the solution we are testing right now with the FAA," says Boeing chief executive James McNerney at the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit today in Washington.

"It will be sooner rather than later," he adds, saying that a test flight will take place in "several days".

Boeing is expected to conduct a certification test flight of the 787 by the end of the week, after completing a functional check flight on a LOT-ordered 787 on 25 March.

The worldwide 787 fleet has been grounded since 16 January following two battery incidents on two different 787s. Boeing has proposed an improved battery design on the aircraft type and must win the approval of FAA regulators before it can return the aircraft to service.

"I have a high degree of confidence... that the fix is what we need it to be, and we will get this airplane back in service in due time," says McNerney.

Calling the 787 a "fabulous airplane", he adds: "None of the promise of this airplane has been diminished."

McNerney acknowledges that dealing with the 787 problems has been a "frustrating experience", but says that FAA regulators who had put the airframer "through the paces" had the country's best interests in mind.