February 7, 2013 in Business

FAA permits one 787 flight to Everett

Dreamliner currently grounded in Texas
Seattle Times
Airlines bench planes

United Airlines is taking the troubled Boeing 787 out of its flying plans for the rest of this month. The airline said it has replaced its six 787s with other planes through the end of February. The 787s were grounded by the government last month.

United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the plane swaps include new flights from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria, which were supposed to switch to a 787 in late January. She said United still plans to start new flights from Denver to Tokyo on March 31.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has also removed 787s from its schedule through month’s end.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is weeks away from knowing what caused a 787 battery to catch fire on Jan. 7.

Boeing said Wednesday it has permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a 787 back to Everett from Texas, where it was being painted.

The flight is planned for today, spokesman Marc Birtel said in an emailed statement.

“The only people aboard are those needed to operate the flight,” the FAA said in a statement confirming the planned flight.

In addition to limiting the “one-time special flight permit” to a direct flight from Fort Worth, Texas, to Everett, the agency imposed several requirements:

• The crew “must perform a number of inspections to verify that the batteries and cables show no signs of damage.”

• It must conduct “a mandatory check for specific status messages that could indicate possible battery problems.”

• And: “While airborne, the crew must continuously monitor the flight computer for battery related messages, and land immediately if one occurs.”

Boeing spokesman Birtel said company officials “are confident – as is the FAA – that the 787 is safe to operate for this activity.”

“Safety of the crew on board is our top priority,” he said.

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