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ANA president sees Boeing progress on batteries

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2013 at 8:19 am •  Published: March 1, 2013

TOKYO (AP) — The president of All Nippon Airways, Boeing's biggest single customer for its troubled 787 Dreamliner, said Friday that he believes the U.S. manufacturer has made progress in resolving problems with the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries.

How soon Boeing can fix the problems, which have led to the 787s being grounded worldwide for over a month, depends partly on the approval process by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, said Shinichiro Ito, who took up the positions of president of ANA Holdings Inc. and chairman of All Nippon Airways on Thursday.

"It isn't up to me to say how far they've gotten in resolving this," Ito said, after ANA management met earlier this week with Boeing CEO Ray Conner.

Connor is visiting Tokyo to explain to Japanese transport regulators and airlines his company's proposal for fixing the problems with overheating of the 787's lithium-ion batteries.

ANA, which has 17 of the 787s as Boeing's launch customer, has stood by the Dreamliner, while trying to minimize the impact on its operations from the battery fiasco.

"If the battery problem is resolved, I am confident the aircraft will be fine," Ito said. "Once the (Boeing proposal) is approved, we will discuss when to resume operations."

But Ito acknowledged that ANA has a challenge in reassuring its customers. If the grounding of the aircraft drags on beyond June, the carrier will have to make more drastic changes in its scheduling and other plans, he said.

On Thursday, Boeing's Conner met with Akihiro Ota, who heads the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and with the director general of the Civil Aviation Bureau.

"I just want to reiterate that the 787 is still the game-changing aircraft it is meant to be," Conner told reporters between meetings in Tokyo. He would not give details of Boeing's plan, but said it had come up with a solution "that addresses all probable causes of the incidents in the aircraft."

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