LAN´s Dreamliners resume flights
|Thursday 16 May 2013||Text by Fernando Luis Puppio Guzmán under Commercial air transport|
Last day May 15th, 2013 LAN Airlines conducted the first test flight requested by the Chilean Aeronautical Authority for the upgraded Boeing 787 Dreamliner, after implementing the modifications of the aircraft´s battery system. The problem forced the flights cancelation of the Dreamliner, when three reported situations with Lithium batteries that caught fire. This eventuality clearly threatened the integrity of the aircraft, leading to flights discontinuation.
The resumption of flights in Chilean skies happens after authorization given to the manufacturer by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States, in order to resume operations of the 787 model. The Dreamliner returned to service last April 27th, 2013 with a flight of Ethiopian Airliners from Addis Ababa to Nairobi (Kenya), without any problem.
Boeing simultaneously solved the problem facing him in various ways. The first was improve quality in battery manufacturing line where the supplier added new inspections and trials to existing ones, in addition to verification of 100% of production (and not random batches). Further changes were made to the structure of the batteries, which were added new layers of insulation between the cells cover and isolate each battery. Also the batteries are housed in a new stainless steel container that provides thermal isolation to the other components of the avionics bay.
The modifications to the battery system were made by a joint technical team that involved LAN personnel and nearly 30 Boeing technicians. Upgrade tasks were performed under the direct supervision of the Chilean Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (General Directorate of Civil Aviation – DGAC). LAN has been working with the DGAC for more than three years for the launch of this new plane. The Chilean company has three B-787-816 and delivered (registered as CC-BBA, CC-BBB and CC-BBC), plus a fourth aircraft will receive by mid-2013. Meanwhile, LAN expects to be operating a 787 dozen by the end of 2014, as agreed by the addition to its fleet of 22 B-787-800 and 10 787-900s.
This first test flight after the modifications, departed from Arturo Merino Benitez International at approximately 13:00 local time, with the callsign LAN9997. The flight was performed normally and according to plan, flying for about two hours around the air space of the city of Santiago de Chile. Before restarting commercial operations LAN must meet all the requirements requested by the DGAC and the American authority, to implement the improvements certified by Boeing. This involves a number of additional test flights. The second test flight, callsign LAN1300, was completed last May 16th, departing from Arturo Merino Benitez at 11:00 local time.
Note that since the beginning of operations with Boeing B-787, the company had no incidents in the battery system 787 fleet, which was flying the routes to Buenos Aires (see My first Dreamliner… “Batteries not included”), Lima and Los Angeles, all of which are departing from Santiago de Chile.
After conducting a series of test flights required with own pilots, LAN expects to resume operations next June 1st on the Santiago-Lima-Los Angeles route, according to the company’s schedule. For next June 30 was also planned start Dreamliner flights from Santiago to Madrid. All these activities are in line with what has been done by other 787 operators, which are already flying the 787.