United Airlines Drops Boeing 787 Dreamliner Out of Service Until June 5

Thursday, United Continental Holdings announced that it was taking Boeing Co’s grounded 787 Dreamliner out of its flying plans through June 5 and postponed its new Denver-to-Tokyo flights.

United, the only U.S. carrier that has 787s in its fleet, has six of the planes. Boeing has delivered 50 787s to eight airlines worldwide. Photo: George Lau/Flickr

Boeing 787 was from its flying plans by United Airlines at least until June and postponed its new Denver-to-Tokyo flights on Thursday, as airlines continued to tear up their schedules while the plane is out of service.

United’s decision came as a Japanese investigation of a fuel leak on a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) (9201.T) indicated the cause to be a coating around the mechanism that controls fuel movement between tanks.

According to the Huff Post, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are looking into the Jan. 7 battery fire on a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

A Japan Airlines emergency landing in Japan is being examined by investigators in that country. And more broadly, the FAA is reviewing the design, certification, manufacture and assembly of the 787.

Japanese officials launched the investigation, but still have not found the cause of the battery issue.

Japan’s Transport Ministry said it believed the manufacturing process led to deficiencies in the way electrical-insulating coating was applied to the mechanism that opened and closed the fuel-tank valve.

The Boeing Company said it was maintaining communication with United as the plane maker develops a plan to resume 787 services.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in an emailed comment : “We deeply regret the impact the recent events have had on the schedule for United and their customers.”

Boeing has deployed hundreds of workers on the project to find and fix the problem with the 787’s batteries.

According to Dennis Muilenburg , a man in charge of Boeing’s defense and space business, the company has long used lithium ion batteries in its satellites.

United spokeswoman Christen David said the plane could still fly earlier than June 5 if a fix is found. At that point it would be used as needed around United’s system, she said.

United was due to begin flying from Denver to Tokyo’s Narita airport on March 31. It’s postponing the start of those flights at least until May 12, or longer if the 787 isn’t cleared to fly. That would be almost a year after United began selling tickets for the flight, reports the Fox News.

“We are taking the 787 out of our schedule through June 5, except for Denver-Narita, which will tentatively launch on May 12,” United’s statement said.

Also, Polish Airlines, LOT, has said that it is planning to keep its  787s grounded through October.

“Airlines don’t make money while their planes are on the ground,” said Morningstar airline analyst Basili Alukos.

Boeing has taken 848 orders for the Dreamliner from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world. Depending on the version ordered, the price ranges from $206.8 million to $243.6 million per jet.

Boeing has declined to talk about any planned meetings with federal officials.

The Chicago aerospace giant said it is working with the affected airlines and the regulatory agencies to get the matter resolved.

Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. fell 17 cents to close at $25.91 on Thursday. Boeing Co. rose $1.23 to close at $76.01.

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