Boeing to move 'really fast' after FAA 787 approval

NEW YORK (AFP) - Boeing's commercial aircraft chief said on Monday the company would move "really fast" to get its grounded 787s flying again after it wins approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its proposed battery fix.

Mr Ray Conner, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, speaking at a JP Morgan conference in New York, noted that the United States aerospace giant had only presented its fix to the FAA on Feb 22.

After 200,000 hours of analysis and tests, "we feel very good about the fix. We've covered the waterfront, so to speak," he said.

Once the FAA approves the plan, he said, "we will move really fast" with testing and certification to get the airplanes "out there".

Burnt lithium-ion batteries on two 787s - a fire on a parked airplane in Boston and smoke that caused an emergency landing in Japan - resulted in the January 16 global grounding of all 50 787s in service.

The Boeing chief executive said the company would stick with the lithium-ion batteries, which are significantly more powerful and lighter than the nickel-cadmium batteries traditionally used on aircraft.

Throughout the analysis, "we couldn't see any reason to make a switch back," Mr Conner said.

Mr Conner tiptoed around a question about the decision by European rival Airbus, after the 787 groundings, to switch to nickel-cadmium batteries instead of ion-lithium for its new A350 being developed.

"They wanted to give themselves an alternative path," he said, probably a "prudent" choice.

As for the safety implications of the proposed battery fix, Mr Conner said: "We would not go forward unless we thought we had it nailed".

Despite the 787 problems, which resulted in Boeing halting deliveries, Mr Conner said that Boeing was keeping its forecast to deliver more than 60 787s this year.

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