Two months after smoky batteries on a pair of Japanese-owned Boeing 787s prompted a global grounding of the fleet, much remains a mystery.
At the top of the list of questions are what caused the lithium-ion power packs to overheat and how much longer it will be before the high-tech passenger jets are allowed to use their swept wings again.
But one thing seems clear: Boeing, which invested billions of dollars in the 787, wants its prize planes back in the air as soon as possible, and it’s poised for whenever government regulators give the OK.
Speaking at an investment conference in New York a week ago, Boeing’s commercial airplanes chief said his engineers have developed a “very comprehensive solution” to the battery issue.
If and when the Federal Aviation Administration, which received the proposal a couple of weeks ago, approves it, Ray Conner said Boeing “will move very fast” to get the jets back in the air.
“We are prepared,” he said. “We are ready to go.”
On Wednesday, Boeing reached out to a different but likely overlapping audience with an emailed survey that measured its fans’ and followers’ attitudes toward the 787. The survey began with generic questions about what’s most important to the flying public but eventually got to the point.
“Please indicate your degree of preference for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner,” it asked. The two choices were “I prefer Dreamliner” or “I prefer other aircraft.” The last question was “What three words come to mind when you think of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner?”
Candy Eslinger, spokeswoman for Boeing’s 787 complex in North Charleston, said such surveys are “well-established standard marketing practice for all customer-driven companies.”
“Our main focus is returning the 787 to flight,” she wrote. “When it returns to flight, we want to be prepared to respond to the needs of our customers, their passengers and others interested in the 787.”
While the National Transportation Safety Board’s interim report last week indicated it is far from finished with its battery investigation, there have been reports that the FAA could approve Boeing’s new safety measures any day.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906. Follow him on Twitter @kearney_brendan.
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