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The outcome of the FAA probe into the 787 Dreamliner’s battery problems — if that is indeed the core problem — will have huge implications for Boeing and the global aviation industry.
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney expressed confidence that the company and the FAA are making “good progress” in getting to the cause of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery incidents, and added that he can’t predict under what circumstance the aircraft will return to commercial operations.
“I am confident we’ll identify the root cause of these incidents,” McNerney said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call today.
McNerney said the business envionment is “positive overall” given a record backlog in orders, and customer demand as airlines replace older planes and refresh their fleets.
He said Boeing remains confident in the future of the 787 Dreamliner program, and the safety of the aircraft.
Boeing “deeply regrets the impact that this is having on our customers,” McNerney said.
Asked to predict a timeframe and under what circumstances the 787 Dreamliner would return into commercial operation, McNerney said, “I can’t predict an outcome and I’m not going to.”
He said progress is being made and the Boeing is working “productively” with regulatory agencies.
“When we know the answer, we’ll know the answer and act on it,” McNerney said.
McNerney said Boeing is bringing in employees from around the company to work on the problem, although the effort is “highly compartmentalized” and is not draining engineering resources from other aircraft projects.
“I am confident we’ll identify the root cause of these incidents,” McNerney said.
The FAA ordered the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner by U.S. airlines on January 16.
Boeing continues to produce the aircraft as the company and its airline customers await the completion of the FAA probe.