Boeing Completes 'Uneventful' Test Flight of 787

Boeing's 787 on its test flight
Source: The Boeing Comapany | Flickr
Boeing's 787 on its test flight

Boeing completed what it called an "uneventful" test flight of a 787 Dreamliner, its first since the airplanes were grounded more than three weeks ago after a series of battery-related problems.

The test flight to gather detailed information on the airplane's lithium-ion batteries lasted two hours and 19 minutes, taking off from and returning to Boeing Field in Seattle on Saturday, Boeing said.

"The crew reports that the flight was uneventful," Boeing said in a statement.

The 50 Dreamliners in commercial service were grounded worldwide on Jan. 16 after a series of battery-related incidents including a fire on board a parked 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport and an in-flight problem on another airplane in Japan.

The groundings have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars, with no solution yet in sight.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it would allow 787 test flights, under more stringent rules, to monitor the batteries in flight.

Boeing said the information gathered during the flight was part of the investigations into the battery events that occurred in January and that additional details could not be shared.

The airplane is Boeing's fifth 787 flight test airplane, marked as ZA005, and the only member of the test fleet in service. The flight had a crew of 13, including pilots and testing personnel, Boeing said.

Boeing said it planned to resume test flights early this week. Boeing does not provide advance flight schedules.

Emirates airlines, meanwhile, said expects a revamped version of Boeing's 777 airliner to be available to customers in six to nine months, adding technical issues affecting Dreamliner jets will not affect progress.

"The engagement on 777X continues. I believe it will be launched and we'll see that in six to nine months," Emirates President Tim Clark told reporters in Dubai on Sunday.

Boeing appears to be at least a year away from offering a new version of the 777, Reuters reported in November, quoting people familiar with talks between the aircraft maker and its customers.

Emirates, Boeing's biggest customer, has said it will need to replace its old 777s from 2017, which is prompting the push for a new version.

The airline has been pressing for the 777X to come out sooner rather than later. The 777 is one of the most successful jets of all time in terms of sales, and airlines are eager for a version that can go farther on less fuel with more passengers.

Clark said problems arising out of a series of battery-related issues that led to grounding of Boeing's 50 Dreamliner aircraft in commercial service in the last three to four weeks is likely to worsen in the short-term but he expressed confidence that the company would address it.

"The problem is extremely challenging for the planemaker and its customers but Boeing will sort it out. It will get worse before getting better. They'll overcome it," Clark said.