Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Boeing Says Air India Unhappy With 787 Dreamliner’s Performance

Boeing Co. said Air India Ltd. is dissatisfied with the performance of its 787 Dreamliner, joining other carriers including Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA in slamming the manufacturer for repeated faults on its marquee jet.

“Yes, they are not happy with the reliability portion, neither are we,” Dinesh Keskar, a senior vice president at the Chicago-based planemaker, said in an interview at the Singapore Air Show today. “Over the last few months, we understood which are the components that were causing issues, which software needs to be upgraded.”

The Dreamliner has experienced a series of malfunctions since its debut in 2011, including a three-month grounding of the global fleet last year after battery meltdowns on two planes. Air India, which hasn’t reported an annual profit since 2007, and low-cost airliner Norwegian Air built their growth plans around the composite-material airliner and its promise of more fuel-efficient operation

Air India diverted one of its 787s to Kuala Lumpur this month as a precaution after a software fault on a flight to New Delhi from Melbourne. Boeing is upgrading software and changing some components on Air India 787s whenever the planes can be taken out of service, Keskar said, adding that a 13th Dreamliner will be delivered to the carrier this month.

Missing Mark

Air India, which has ordered 27 Dreamliners, will seek compensation from Boeing after the carrier found that its 787s aren’t as fuel efficient as the planemaker had claimed while selling them, The Times of India reported today, citing officials it didn’t identify. G. P. Rao,, a spokesman at Air India, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Fuel efficiency of the Dreamliner is improving after earlier models didn’t “quite make the mark” on this count, Keskar said.

The 787 is the first jetliner built chiefly of composite materials rather than traditional aluminum. It also relies to a greater degree than other jets on electricity to run the plane’s systems, putting a spotlight on the lithium-ion batteries.

Mumbai-based Air India has sparred with Boeing over compensation for tardy deliveries. Even so, Keskar said Boeing sees potential aircraft deals in India later this year. The company is in advanced talks with discount carrier SpiceJet Ltd. and Jet Airways (India) Ltd., the nation’s biggest publicly traded airline, to sell 737 Max jets.

In January, Japan Airlines Co., one of the biggest operators of the Dreamliner, found a battery cell in an empty jet smoking during preflight maintenance. Last year’s grounding added to a history of setbacks for the Dreamliner, whose entry into commercial service in 2011 for Tokyo-based ANA Holdings Inc. was more than 3 1/2 years late because of production snags.

Boeing will increase its prediction for India plane demand in the next couple of months, Keskar said in Singapore today. The company had forecast last year that carriers in the Asian nation will need 1,450 new aircraft, worth $175 billion over the next two decades.

Story and comments/reaction:    http://www.bloomberg.com

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