Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), the single biggest operator of Boeing Co’s flagship 787, said it put its Dreamliner fleet back into service yesterday following a four-month suspension due to battery problems.
One of ANA’s high-tech planes arrived safely at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on time from Sapporo in Hokkaido to the relief of about 220 passengers aboard, the airline and airport officials said.
It was ANA’s first commercial flight of a Dreamliner since the planes were grounded worldwide after two separate incidents on Japanese-owned planes involving overheating of the lithium-ion battery packs in January.
“We have implemented full-scale preparations with some 200 test flights,” ANA vice president Hiroyuki Ito was quoted by Jiji Press as saying in Sapporo’s Shin Chitose Airport ahead of the flight’s departure.
“We will continue to make efforts so that passengers can use the planes comfortably,” Ito said.
A passenger on the flight told Tokyo Broadcasting System Television at the airport: “To be honest, I feel a sense of unease, but I want to believe in ANA.”
Last week, All Nippon announced plans to resume flights earlier than its originally planned date of Saturday this week as the airline completed safety tests.
ANA plans to restart regular flights at home and overseas, including services connecting Tokyo and major cities such as Taipei, Beijing, Frankfurt and San Jose.
After months of investigations, US authorities last month formally approved Boeing’s battery fix and Japanese regulators followed suit.
ANA said a modified Dreamliner had experienced a fault in an electrical panel earlier this month, but it insisted the glitch was too “minor” to affect the restart of services by the fuel-saving lightweight planes.
ANA operates around a third of the 50 787s that Boeing has delivered, more than half of which have now been put back into service.
On Monday last week, United Airlines resumed Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights with a service from the airline’s hub in Houston, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois.
Ethiopian Airlines was the first carrier to resume service late last month, and Air India, which owns six Boeing 787s, also restarted flights last week.
ANA began testing its Dreamliner fleet at the end of last month, with a two-hour flight from Haneda Airport that had ANA chairman Shinichiro Ito and Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief execuitve officer Ray Conner aboard as part of a push to reassure Japanese consumers the plane was safe.