Norwegian Air CEO says Boeing changed 787 pump design

Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:49pm EDT
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By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The chief executive of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (NWC.OL: Quote) ended weeks of criticism of Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) on Thursday, praising the aircraft maker for fixing a faulty 787 Dreamliner and saying the $200 million high-tech plane is "fantastic" for the budget airline.

Bjorn Kjos told Reuters in an interview that Boeing redesigned a malfunctioning hydraulic pump that controlled flaps used to steer the plane as part of a two-week overhaul to fix problems with the jet.

"I think the Dreamliner is going to be a fantastic aircraft," the CEO said, noting that the plane's low operating cost made it profitable for use on long-haul trips.

"We know from the one that has flown very well so far, that it is performing fantastic" on fuel burn "and passengers love it," said Kjos, a former fighter-jet pilot.

The CEO's softer tone contrasts with his previous frustration with the Dreamliner, which has suffered a string of troubles since it entered service two years ago. Among previous remarks, Norwegian Air has said the "Dreamliner has proven to be more of a nightmare for airlines relying on this new craft, especially Norwegian Air Shuttle."

Taking the plane out of service has required Norwegian Air to lease an Airbus EAD.PA A340 jet, and stranded passengers for up to 12 hours. Kjos declined to disclose the cost of those measures, but said fuel burn on the four-engine Airbus jet was high, especially compared with the next-generation, two-engine 787.

"Obviously it is no good that the passengers are delayed for 12 hours. You shouldn't accept that. So I am angry on behalf of the passengers. But I know Boeing will fix this aircraft. They have the resources to fix it and they know how to fix it."

He said Boeing had sent 15 people from Seattle to work on the plane in Stockholm, where the plane was located.   Continued...