UPDATE 1-Qatar Airways sees 787 fix soon, may seek compensation

Wed Mar 6, 2013 8:11am EST
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* Qatar CEO says believes battery meltdowns were one-offs

* Says confident Boeing will get 787 in the air soon

By Tim Hepher

BERLIN, March 6 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways backed Boeing's proposals for getting its grounded 787 Dreamliner passenger jet back in service, but suggested on Wednesday that it would seek compensation over the crisis which has left 4 percent of its fleet idle.

The Gulf airline's chief executive said he believed two battery meltdowns that led to the grounding of the high-tech jet were one-off events rather than evidence of a deeper safety problem.

"I still have confidence they will get the aircraft in the air in the not too distant future," Akbar Al Baker told a news conference, adding: "but that doesn't mean I will not get compensation."

Boeing's flagship jetliner has been grounded for nearly seven weeks, costing an estimated $350 million, after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two 787s in January.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is due to issue an update this week on its investigation into what caused one of the batteries to overheat and smoke, but has indicated it will take longer to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

Boeing proposed a fix two weeks ago based on a stronger flame-proof container for the batteries, but safety experts have said the timing of regulatory approval is clouded by uncertainty over what caused the batteries to melt down.   Continued...