New Delhi: The Dreamliner planes of Air India may fly again by mid-April 2013, with the airline expressing hope that a permanent solution to the battery-fire that led to the grounding of all the 50 Boeing 787s flying worldwide will be achieved by the month-end, official sources said on Monday.
Air India's hopes were strengthened after a meeting of official aviation regulators of seven countries, including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Transportation and Boeing in the US last week. The meeting was informed that a "permanent fix" to the problem with the lithium-ion batteries was likely to be in place by March-end, the sources said. The six Boeing 787s of Air India were grounded on January 17, 2013, by the DGCA after a global directive by US regulator, Federal Aviation Administration, to stop operations of all the 50 such planes delivered so far to various airlines.
Officials of the aviation regulators of India, Chile, Ethiopia, Japan, Poland, Qatar and the US, whose airlines have these next-generation airplanes in their fleet, attended the meeting with Boeing. Once a solution is found and certified by the US FAA, it would take about a week to get the grounded Dreamliners ready to fly again, the sources said. Raymond Conner, Executive Vice president of Boeing and head of its commercial aeroplanes division, was reported as saying that Boeing would not abandon the lithium-ion batteries used in these planes which are at the centre of a worldwide safety probe.
"It is not an interim solution. This is a permanent solution," Conner told reporters in Tokyo last week after a meeting with Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ota to discuss problems that caused one battery to catch fire and another to emit smoke.