ANA Holdings, the biggest operator of Boeing's grounded 787 Dreamliners, expects to complete repairs next month to get the jet airborne for the first time since battery flaws halted flights in January.
The carrier started the repairs this morning at four airports around Japan, Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman said by telephone from Tokyo. Japan Airlines has also started fixing the batteries, according to a person familiar with plan, who declined to be identified as the information isn't public.
The global fleet of 49 Dreamliners was grounded worldwide on January 16 after lithium-ion batteries on two separate planes overheated and melted, causing flights to be canceled and cutting revenue at the operators. ANA and JAL are waiting for approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration and Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau before they can restart flights.
"Pilots will be able to fly the planes soon after studying the changes to the manual," said Toshikazu Nagasawa, a director at the Air Line Pilots' Association of Japan, which has about 4,500 members. "The biggest problem will be getting passengers to fly on the planes."
The airlines received service bulletins on repairs from Boeing after it last week won approval from the FAA for the 787's redesigned battery system. The FAA said it will issue a directive this week to let flights resume once the battery fixes are made.
Both airlines still need permission from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism before they can fly the planes. The ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau is in its final stages of the Dreamliner probe, Shigeru Takano, the agency's director in charge of air transport safety, said last week in Tokyo.
Japan will wait until after a two-day US National Transportation Safety Board hearing on the JAL 787 battery fire starting on Tuesday before making a decision on the resumption of flights, Mr Takano said.
ANA, whose All Nippon Airways unit is the biggest operator of Dreamliners, said in January the grounding of the fleet cut sales by •1.4 billion that month. The Tokyo- based carrier has canceled 3,601 flights through the end of May, affecting 167,820 passengers.
* Bloomberg News