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Japan Dreamliner test flight lands at Tokyo airport

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Dreamliner test flight with top Boeing and All Nippon Airways' executives aboard landed at a Tokyo airport Sunday, the carrier said, three months after the worldwide fleet of 787s was grounded.

The test flight by ANA, one of largest customers of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, came a day after Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier to resume flying the 787s that have been grounded worldwide since January due to battery problems.

ANA chairman Shinichiro Ito and Boeing chief executive Ray Conner were aboard the aircraft which landed back in Tokyo at around 11:00 am (0200 GMT) after a two-hour flight as Boeing and ANA seek to reassure passengers that the planes are safe.

ANA has the world's largest fleet of the next-generation planes and the presence of both executives underscores their desire to put the damaging crisis behind them.

The US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators grounded the worldwide Dreamliner fleet in mid-January after failures of the lithium-ion batteries on the jetliner caused a fire on board one parked plane in Boston and forced the emergency landing of an ANA-operated aircraft in Japan.

Following months of investigations, the FAA on Thursday issued formal approval of Boeing's battery fix, with Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday becoming the first carrier to resume using the aircraft in a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

Speaking in Tokyo on Saturday, Mike Sinnett, Boeing's chief project manager for the Dreamliner programme, said the Japanese test flight showed the faith that the US aircraft manufacturer placed in the battery fix.

"What it represents is... the depth of confidence that Ray Conner has in the series of design solutions we have brought forward," Sinnett told reporters.

ANA and domestic rival Japan Airlines (JAL) account for around half the 50 Dreamliners in service worldwide, but it could still be at least a month before they can complete all the battery fixes and get their planes in the air.

kh-oh/mtp

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130427/japan-dreamliner-test-flight-lands-at-tokyo-airport