United Airlines Drops Boeing 787 From Flight Plans

United Continental Holdings has dropped the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from flight plans until June 5, except the tentative Denver-to-Tokyo launch in May.

The decision by United was made after Boeing’s newest plane was grounded worldwide for battery problems, as well as a fuel leak on a 787 operated by Japan Airlines.

Japanese officials are investigating two fuel leaks, as well as a battery failure that sparked a fire on an All Nippon Airlines flight last month.

Reuters reports that all airlines operating 787 are setting schedules for the coming months, though they are not certain when the 50 Dreamliners currently in operation will be back in the air.

Boeing is expected to meet with the head of the US Federal Aviation Administration to speak about the plane’s battery problems on Friday. The root cause of the electrical problem is still not known, but the Washington State-based company is expected to prevent measures designed to prevent more battery failures.

United released a statement about the 787 Dreamliner, saying:

“We are taking the 787 out of our schedule through June 5, except for Denver-Narita, which will tentatively launch May 5.”

The Los Angeles Times notes that investigators for Japan’s Transport Safety Board found that the battery failure was cause by improper wiring. The board added that more investigation is still needed.

Boeing has taken 848 orders for the Dreamliner so far from airlines around the world. Boeing is working with affected airlines, as well as regulatory agencies, to resolve the problems on its aircraft.

All Nippon Airlines released a statement earlier this month, saying that it expects 126,220 passengers will be affected by 1,887 flight cancellations of 787 flights through March 30. Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel stated in an email:

“We deeply regret the impact the recent events have had on the schedule for United and their customers.”

United’s statement about taking the 787 out of its schedule for the next four months doesn’t mean that the airplane won’t fly before June. It is still possible that the Dreamliner will be back in service before the summer, provided the battery issue can be resolved.

[Image by I, Yasobara [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons ]