ANA to put pilots through Dreamliner resumption training: sources

Tue Apr 2, 2013 4:10am EDT
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By Yoko Kubota and Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) - All Nippon Airways, the biggest customer for Boeing Co's grounded 787 Dreamliner, will put its pilots through training to resume flights in June, sources told Reuters, after Boeing completed more than half of its tests to get its new battery system certified.

The Japanese carrier, known as ANA, is also likely to use the Dreamliner initially for cargo flights once the new battery system is installed, to reassure the public about safety before restarting passenger flights, one of the sources said.

Regulators grounded all 50 Dreamliners in use by airlines worldwide in mid-January after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two separate aircraft, on a Japan Airlines jet parked at Boston's Logan airport and on an ANA flight in Japan. ANA operates 17 of the carbon-composite jets and has canceled more than 3,600 flights through the end of May.

Anticipating regulatory clearance, ANA will put its roughly 200 Dreamliner pilots through flight resumption simulator training so that they will be ready to fly the jets again in June, the sources with knowledge of ANA's operations said.

Since the Dreamliner was grounded, the pilots have been undergoing simulator training every month, but their next training will be specifically for flight resumption, the sources said. The training will start around mid-April, one of the sources said.

"The company is making as many assumptions as it can and is preparing based on them. In order to resume flights from June, it needs all 200 of the pilots ready to be flying by then," a source said.

The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Without having found what caused the battery incidents in January, Boeing last month unveiled a new battery system and predicted the 787 could be back in the air within weeks, which drew skepticism from some experts and regulators.   Continued...

Four All Nippon Airways' (ANA) Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner planes (top) are seen behind another ANA plane at Haneda airport in Tokyo January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai