United stands by 787 despite issues

Washington DC
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United Airlines says that it is "confident" in the Boeing 787 and will implement any changes that the Boeing and US Federal Aviation Administration determine are needed following investigations of the aircraft's lithium ion batteries.

"History teaches us that all new aircraft types have issues and the 787 is no different," says Jeff Smisek, chairman and chief executive of the Chicago-based carrier, during an earnings call on 24 January. "We continue to have confidence in the aircraft and in Boeing's abilities to fix the issues."

The FAA grounded the 787 on 16 January, following two battery-related incidents aboard two separate aircraft flown by All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL).

Jim Compton, chief revenue officer of United, called the grounding "readily manageable" and cited the fact that the aircraft only flew ten daily segments out of the airline's 1,800 every day, in an employee newsletter on 17 January.

United has six 787s in its fleet and intends to take delivery of an additional two later this year, according to an investor update.

"I'm confident that when the regulatory authorities and Boeing working together determine the cause of the battery issues and the fix for it, that we'll implement whatever that fix is that will permit us to fly the aircraft safely again," says Smisek.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the 787 battery is continuing and the agency does not have a timeline for when they will conclude.