Relief to airlines as Dreamliner flights resume
The recent lifting of ban on Dreamliner service by FAA in the United States and regulators elsewhere has come as a big relief to airlines that have invested heavily on the ultra modern Boeing 787 aircraft.
Dreamliner operators including Qatar Airways grounded all B787 planes in service worldwide in January after batteries overheated on two aircraft.
The grounding of some 50 Dreamliners around the world including five owned by our national carrier Qatar Airways, on top of the Boeing 787 delivery schedule going haywire, has clearly upset the expansion plans of some fast growing airlines.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker recently said the grounding of the five 787s and the delay in the delivery of further Dreamliners, has really impacted Qatar Airways expansion severely.
“Instead of the 15 new route launches we were planning this year, we have to settle with 10 now. We took airplanes (Boeing 787s), which we could not fly. I am very unhappy about this,” al-Baker told Gulf Times.
Besides being an ultra modern airline, the plane maker, Chicago-based Boeing says it is very fuel-efficient and the world’s first one to use composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe.
The Boeing 787 has been designed to be 20% more fuel efficient than the 767 it is to replace.
Precisely, these are the reasons why Qatar Airways has decided to include the Boeing 787 in its rapidly developing fleet.
Qatar Airways has placed 30 firm Dreamliner orders and an option for 30 more, of which it has already received some five 787s. Another five Dreamliners would be delivered to the national carrier from June, albeit some two months behind the latest schedule.
The five Dreamliners in the national carrier’s fleet will be fitted with “modified” lithium-ion batteries before the month-end, al-Baker said.
Already one Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner that is fitted with the modified battery has been tested and put on a regular commercial service on the Dubai route. The daily frequency of Dreamliner service on the Dubai route will go up to seven from May 10.
And Qatar Airways would deploy Dreamliner on some of the key European routes such as London, Munich and Frankfurt from May 20, starting with Heathrow. Dreamliner would be put into service on the Munich route on May 22 and Frankfurt from May 26.
With the new variant (Boeing 787-9) joining the Qatar Airways fleet next year, the national airline would start using it on the North American routes. For, the later variants of Dreamliner will have the crew rest facility that is essential on long-haul routes.
Boeing, which has invested billions of dollars on R&D and taken safety-related issues with priority, has already tested the modified batteries on many flights in the US, Japan and Qatar among other places. Boeing has orders for some 800 Dreamliners from airlines across the world.
Travellers hope the new battery on the 787s will work permanently and that the Dreamliner remains an absolutely safe vessel to fly.