United AirlinesUnited Airlines plans to return its fleet of Boeing Dreamliner jets to service at the end of May, pending regulator approval, a spokesperson said Monday.
The final decision to return the Dreamliner to flight in the United States rests with the Federal Aviation Administration. Friday, US Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood called the redesigned battery system a “good plan” to fix the Dreamliner.
The passenger jet, which promises fuel savings through new composite materials and a powerful lithium-ion battery, has been out of service since the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive on January 16, following two incidents in which that battery failed.
The “comprehensive and robust” three-part fix calls for stopping battery cells from short-circuiting in the first place, preventing such a failure from spreading throughout the battery, and making sure the plane is not damaged if all that happens anyway, with a sealed battery enclosure.
It does not address the root cause of the failures, which is still unknown, and likely to remain that way.
Asked last month if the Dreamliner is safe, Vice President and Chief Project Engineer Mike Sinnett said, “absolutely, absolutely,” noting he would fly in it with his family.
United, which has six Dreamliners, plans to return the jet to its Houston-Denver route on May 31, and to the Denver-Tokyo route on June 10, according to Bloomberg.
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