While Boeing says a test flight of its troubled 787 Dreamliner has gone according to script, the aircraft could face a new setback as the FAA reportedly mulls limiting the 787’s ETOPS limits.
A 787 took to the skies on Monday for the first time since the model was grounded in mid-January after batteries overheated on a pair of the jets. The two-hour flight, a first step in proving that Boeing has found a solution to those problems, went off without issue, Boeing said. A second test flight is scheduled for the coming days.
But while Boeing hopes to see the grounding lifted by May at the latest, the 787 may return to the skies with its wings clipped. According to Reuters, the FAA is considering temporary limits to the aircraft’s one-engine out ETOPS flying times.
The 787 had been approved for ETOPS flights up to three hours single-engine flying time away from an airport and Boeing has sought permission to extend that range to 5 1/2 hours, which would allow the 787 to fly over the North Pole. However, the FAA is now reportedly considering rolling back the 787’s ETOPS approval to two hours.
That would prove restrictive to current operators of the 50 787’s so far delivered, forcing them to take less direct routes on some long haul flights and likely pushing them to seek further compensation from Boeing. The grounding has already cost Boeing an estimated US$450 million.