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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

United Puts Dreamliner Back in Service

United Puts Dreamliner Back in Service

CHICAGO—United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL -2.42% completed its first flight of a Boeing Co. BA -0.28% 787 Dreamliner with paying passengers since the planes were grounded in January.

United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney flew in economy class on the approximately two-hour-and-twenty-minute flight between United’s hubs in Houston and Chicago.

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United, the sole U.S. operator of the 787, became the fifth airline to resume commercial flights of the eight carriers that currently use the jetliner. Monday’s flight came just over four months after overheating of lithium-ion batteries on two 787s in Japan prompted global regulators to order the Dreamliner grounded, kicking off an intense effort by Boeing to develop modifications of the advanced battery systems.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the modifications last month, allowing the jets to return to service, although the two incidents aboard Japanese Dreamliners remain under investigation by aviation safety officials in the U.S. and Japan.

Mr. Smisek said four of United’s six 787s had completed installation of new lithium-ion batteries and additional modifications for reliability. The remaining two jets should complete the upgrades by the end of the week, he said.

United was forced to take an $11 million charge to its quarterly earnings due to lost revenue from the 787’s grounding.

Mr. Smisek said United was “disappointed” by the grounding: “It’s like having a brand-new cool sports car and you don’t get to drive it.” He said the 787 is “still a delightful airplane, just as it was before, except the battery is fixed, and it’s nice to have it up flying again. We are just delighted.”

A Boeing spokesman said the company has completed modifications on 45 of the original 50 787s that were in service at the time of the Jan. 16 grounding.

 

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