Boeing aims for mid-May restart of 787 deliveries

Apr 24, 2013

Boeing says it will begin delivering 787s again in early May.

The 787 has been grounded since mid-January because of smoldering batteries. Federal authorities have approved Boeing's redesigned battery system.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney says the new battery setup has been installed on 10 787s that belong to airlines, and on nine more that have been built but not delivered.

He says "the bulk" of airline-owned 787s will get the battery fix by mid-May. Each installation takes about five days.

Boeing has kept producing the 787 even though it was grounded. But it can only collect the cash from airlines when it delivers the planes — so restarting deliveries is important to the company.

Boeing executives wouldn't say how much it's cost the company to redesign the battery and retrofit the fleet. On an earnings conference call, Chief Financial Officer Greg Smithwould only say that the cost of the battery fix was "minor" compared with Boeing’s overall results. The company earned more than a billion dollars in the first quarter.

Morningstar analyst Neal Dihora says he thinks in the long run, the way Boeing handled the Dreamliner grounding may help improve the company’s image.

"In a year or two, we won’t remember all the details, we’ll remember that it was grounded and they fixed it so it was safer," Dihora said.

And Dihora says even if Boeing has some angry airline customers, the company can smooth out those relationships by paying penalties or offering discounts on future planes.