Japan's ANA to conduct up to 200 Boeing 787 test flights: sources
By Yoko Kubota
TOKYO (Reuters) - All Nippon Airways (9202.T: Quote) (ANA), the biggest customer for Boeing Co's (BA.N: Quote) grounded 787 Dreamliner, plans about 100 to 200 round trip test flights in May of its repaired aircraft before carrying passengers again from June, sources said.
U.S. regulators approved on Friday a revamped battery system for the Dreamliner, a crucial step in returning the high-tech jet to service after it was grounded in January because its lithium-ion batteries overheated.
Boeing engineers will start to refit each of the 50 jets owned by airlines around the world with the battery system and regulators are expected to lift the ban on passenger flights as early as next week, for the jets that have been fixed.
But ANA will conduct about 100 to 200 round trip test flights in May, before it starts carrying passengers again on scheduled flights in June, sources knowledgeable about ANA's operations told Reuters.
They declined to be identified as they are not authorized to speak to the media about the matter.
The test flights are aimed at checking the safety of the aircraft, as well as having about 200 of ANA's Dreamliner pilots get accustomed to flying it again after more than a three-month break, one of the sources said.
For some pilots, the test flights will allow them to renew their qualifications that have expired while the jet was grounded, the source said.
ANA plans to conduct the test flights between Tokyo's Haneda airport, or nearby Narita airport, and Chitose in northern Japan, the sources said. Continued...