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United's Boeing 787s back in skies

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

United Airlines resumed Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights Monday after the advanced plane was globally grounded four months ago due to overheated battery incidents.

United, the only US carrier that owns the high-tech jetliner, relaunched 787 passenger service with a flight from the airline's hub in Houston, Texas, to Chicago, where Boeing is based, United said in a statement.

The biggest US airline, owner of six 787s, also announced it expected to take delivery of two more Dreamliners in the second half of 2013.

"The 787 offers an unmatched travel experience for our customers and co-workers, and we are thrilled to be flying it again," Jeff Smisek, United's chairman, president and chief executive, said in the statement.

The first of United's 787s to resume flight carried about 160 passengers including Smisek and Boeing chief executive James McNerney.

United confirmed its plan to launch its Denver-Tokyo route with 787 service on June 10.

It also said it would begin 787 service in the coming months on routes including Houston-London, Los Angeles-Tokyo, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Houston-Lagos.

Two battery-related safety incidents in January -- a fire in one 787 parked in Boston and an emergency landing in another in Japan -- led regulators worldwide to ground all 50 787s in service.

Last month the US Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing's modifications to the 787's lithium-ion battery system, and other regulators followed suit, clearing the way for the plane to return to service.

Ethiopian Airlines was the first to resume service, in late April.

Air India, which owns six Boeing 787s, restarted flights last Wednesday.

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways, the first and biggest 787 customer with 17 in their fleet, plans to relaunch service on June 1.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/well-being/130521/uniteds-boeing-787s-back-skies