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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Boeing 787 Flights Extended-Updated

Woodrow Bellamy III 

[Aviation Today May 28, 2014] The FAA issued Extended Operations (ETOPS) approval for the Boeing 787-8, a development that the company says will enable the aircraft to fly on a wider range of routes and to more destinations. 

Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo, courtesy of Boeing.

The ETOPS approval allows 787-8s to be operated for up to 330 minutes (5.5 hours) away from an airport, up from the previous 180 minutes. The FAA's approval is a sign of confidence in the aircraft that received negative publicity throughout 2013 after incidents involving its lithium-ion battery system grounded the global 787 fleet for more than three months. 

According to an FAA source, the agency based its decision on the aircraft's "in-service reliability history and the manufacturer's effectiveness at addressing relevant issues during 250,000 hours of service for each engine type." 

United Airlines, the only current US-based 787 operator, will have to demonstrate planned routes, diversion airports, diversion plans and in-service history in order to start flying their Dreamliners beyond the existing 180-minute range. Foreign carriers operating the 787 would have to obtain approval from their civil aviation authorities.

"Our customers are eager to expand their 787 operations," said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager, 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We're delighted that this capability, which was designed into the airplane from the very beginning, has been certified." 

Boeing announced the ETOPS approval less than one week after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued recommendations to the FAA for an improved certification process for lithium ion batteries installed on aircraft. Last year the 787's lithium ion battery system was redesigned following the global fleet grounding in order to prevent overheating. 

To date, Boeing has delivered 146 Dreamliners to 19 different customers, and has received 1,030 orders for the aircraft from 60 different customers. The company plans on an entry into service for two new versions of the aircraft with the 787-9 toward the end of this year, and the 787-10 in 2016.   

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