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Boeing says Dreamliner back flying within weeks

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A Boeing executive says the grounded Dreamliner is "absolutely" safe and will be back in the air within weeks.

Fifty planes have been grounded around the world since two battery malfunctions sparked a global no-fly order in mid-January.

Mike Sinnett, the chief project engineer on the 787, says they will get fixes to their systems and be operational again soon.

"I get often asked if I think the airplane is still safe. My answer is simple: absolutely," he told reporters in Japan.

He added that the Dreamliner "is among the safest airplanes our company has ever produced".

Mr Sinnett was speaking as part of a push by the manufacturer to explain how it planned to remedy problems that have badly knocked confidence in one of the world's most advanced aircraft.

The company chose to give its first public explanation of the fix in Japan, home to two of its biggest customers - All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines - and to suppliers who make around a third of the aircraft's parts.

Mr Sinnett says an investigation into the incidents in the United States and Japan has proved the aircraft's safety measures had kicked in properly.

"After the battery failure the airplane responded in exactly the way we had designed and anticipated," he said.

Mr Sinnett says there was no fire inside the battery on either aircraft, and what appeared to the untrained eye to be smoke was actually electrolyte venting from the cells.

Ray Connor, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, says the fixes the company has put in place, which are now undergoing flight testing, will mean the aircraft is back in the skies soon.

"We are going to be dependent upon as we move through the certification process," he told reporters.

"We will determine when we actually get back in the air in terms of flights.

"Previously as I have been anticipating that in months, we are talking more along the line of weeks."

 

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