, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – US aerospace giant Boeing says it will from next week begin installing modified batteries to its grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.
The move comes after the lithium-ion batteries overheated on two of the new 787 jets in January this year in Japan and led the US Federations Aviation Administration to ground the aircraft.
The batteries in the two 787s failed less than two weeks apart, causing a fire on one planes and smoke in another.
Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Thursday, Boeing Marketing Vice President Randy Tinseth said following the approval of fixing the issue last week by the regulator, the company will have fitted most of the new batteries to the 787 fleet by mid May.
“We are improving the production process for the batteries, improving the charging system and we have developed a case for the battery to separate it from the plane, so that in case of failure it will not affect the fleet,” Tinseth said.
He said they have deployed ten teams to locations around the world to begin installing improved battery systems in the aircrafts.
The firm had already delivered fifty 787s Dreamliners to various airlines.
“The authorities have grounded the 787 fleet for around three months now and we have spent over 300,000 hours trying to investigate the problems and see the way forward,” Tinseth added.
Despite the investigations the company said the root cause of those two incidents is still unknown.
“There are several mechanisms that can cause a battery to fail and we have up to now not yet gotten a definite conclusion of what exactly happened,” he clarified.
Kenya Airways (KQ) had in January this year maintained its plan to order nine 787 Dreamliners, expected to be delivered from April next year despite the safety hitches.
“We will be delivering the aircraft for Kenya Airways in the first quarter of 2014. We will not give you details about the deal between us and KQ because that is business. But as I have said, the Boeing 787 will be delivered early next year,” Richard Horigan, Boeing 787-8 Engineering leader said.
The multinational firm now hopes that the huge costs that will be incurred in the process will have no significant impact on its 2013 performance.
Once through with the modifications, the firm targets to deliver 42 aircraft this year.
The 787, Boeing’s newest and most technologically advanced plane, is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries.