Boeing Dreamliners Back in Business After 4-Month Grounding

Boeing resumed deliveries of its high-tech 787 Dreamliner jet on Tuesday, after nearly four months in which it was unable to provide planes to customers because of concerns about the safety of its battery system.

The delivery of the first jet with a redesigned battery system marks a turning point in Boeing's 787 crisis, allowing the company to book revenue for completed sales of the jet, whose list price is $207 million.

But resumption of deliveries will lower Boeing's profit margin in the near term. The 787s being delivered now are among the relatively early jets, which were more costly to make and were sold at steep discounts to attract customers.

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The deliveries will improve Boeing's cash flow this year, however, and will reduce its inventory, something investors have been anticipating as they bid up its stock.

Boeing shares rose 1.42 percent on Tuesday to close at $96.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Boeing said it delivered a new Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways on Tuesday, its second delivery of the year. The first was delivered before Jan. 16, when regulators grounded the worldwide Dreamliner fleet after two lithium-ion batteries overheated on two separate jets that month.

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Boeing also reaffirmed Tuesday that it expects to reach its target of delivering more than 60 787s this year. Analysts said that target should be easy to hit. Boeing kept making Dreamliners while the plane was grounded, so about 25 are parked outside its factories, according to the company.

Boeing also has sped up production. Last week it rolled out the first 787 made at the new rate of seven a month, up from five a month. It aims to raise the rate to 10 a month by year-end, with the first delivery at the new rate in 2014.

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After the two incidents in January, Boeing redesigned the 787's battery system, adding a steel enclosure and other safeguards to prevent fire.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the redesigned system on April 19 and a few days later cleared Boeing to install the $500,000 fix on the 50 delivered jets that had been grounded, as well as those at the factory.

Ethiopian Airlines began carrying customers on the new jet April 27. The other seven airlines that fly the Dreamliner have begun working the aircraft into flight schedules, many with service beginning later this month or in June. United Airlines, the first U.S. carrier with the 787, is due to resume service on May 31.

Boeing still faces potential problems with the plane, its first all-new jetliner in more than a decade. New planes are typically prone to glitches, and the 787 is obviously no exception. In addition to the battery problem, it logged a string of minor mishaps in the months leading up to the grounding, ranging from fuel-line leaks to brake problems and a cracked cockpit windscreen.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating what caused a 787 battery to overheat and catch fire on a parked Japan Airlines plane in Boston. About a week later, another battery overheated on an All Nippon flight in Japan, prompting an emergency landing and evacuation.