Japan Airlines (JAL) will shortly become the second 787 customer to receive its aircraft, as Boeing nears imminent certification of its General Electric GEnx-1B-engined variant and a restart of deliveries that stalled in early February for repairs required because of improper shim installation on aft fuselages.

The airline has completed both route-proving and maintenance training following the visit of GEnx-1B-powered 787 test aircraft ZA005 to Japan for service-ready operational validation trials that lasted from 20 February to 9 March.

Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, says JAL will take delivery of its first aircraft in "the weeks to come". Airplanes 23 and 33, both with 186 seats and registered JA822J and JA825J respectively, are expected to be handed over to the carrier in late March, say programme sources, ahead of the 22 April start of its Boston-Tokyo Narita service.

JAL 787

 © Boeing

Japan Airlines had expected to receive the aircraft in February

JAL had expected its first 787, and fellow Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways its sixth, in February but both required repairs to shims in the aft fuselage. Services from Narita to New Delhi and Moscow, as well as Tokyo Haneda and Beijing are planned to start following the 787's inaugural US service. Boeing is nearing imminent FAA certification for the GEnx-1B engine-airframe for its 787, a milestone expected to be paired with 330min extended operations (ETOPS) approval, says the programme's top engineer.

"The work's all done, it's just a matter of churning through all the paperwork at this point," says Mike Sinnett, 787 chief project engineer of the 330min ETOPS requirements. "So now it's just rolling it through the process with the GE [certification] coming in the next couple of days. [JAL] will be able to seek operational approval and we'll be done."

JAL's Boston link will not require a 330min ETOPS certification, although the aircraft will meet requirements to fly routes that require a diversion airport between 3h and 5h 30min flying time away.

GE says certification for the GEnx-1B-powered 787 will cover both its baseline Block 4 and Performance Improvement Package (PIP1) configurations, with the latter expected to deliver a 1.4% improvement in specific fuel consumption because of an increase in the number of low pressure turbine blades.

JAL's first 787 is fitted with PIP1 engines, says GE. Boeing completed flying for engine-airframe certification on Airplane 35, a production model for Air India, on 23 February. United Airlines, which will take delivery of six 787s in 2012, is expected to be the first to require the 330min requirement for its routing between Houston and Auckland.

Source: Flight International