| WASHINGTON, March 28
WASHINGTON, March 28 - Boeing Co Chief
Executive Jim McNerney on Thursday urged regulators reviewing
battery problems on the company's grounded 787 passenger jet to
let the plane back into service, saying he was confident the
redesigned battery was safe.
He would not specify when he expected the jet to be flying
customers again other than saying "sooner rather than later."
Separately, the airplane leasing company that is the world's
biggest buyer of 787s said it expects its first delivery of the
high-tech jet to be delayed to summer from spring, but that
getting the plane restored to service will "go quickly."
The Federal Aviation Administration and its administrator
Michael Huerta "have been champs here," McNerney told a U.S.
Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington, D.C. on
"They have put us through our paces and they have America's
best interests in mind. They have the safety of the public in
mind as I hope we do, which I think at this point means let's
get this thing back into service and get on with it."
Regulators worldwide banned flight of the 787 after
lithium-ion batteries overheated on two of the aircraft in
January. The grounding is costing Boeing an estimated $50
million a week in lost income and compensation payments to
McNerney said the grounding has been a "frustrating
experience," but he had high confidence that the proposed fix
for the battery system will work. Boeing is now running test
flights to prove the safety of the system, which includes a
steel box to prevent fire and contain explosion. McNerney said
he expected the plane to be in service "sooner rather than
later," though he was not more specific.
Shares of Boeing fell 0.5 percent to $85.76 in morning
trading. The stock is up 16 percent since the plane was
grounded, most of which came over the last month as the 787
moved closer to flying again.
Meanwhile, speaking in the sidelines of the conference, the
president of Boeing's biggest 787 customer said he expects
approving and installing a fix for the battery will "go
"I think it is going to go quickly now," said Fred Cromer,
president of International Lease Finance Corporation, which has
ordered 74 Boeing 787s. "The FAA is interested in getting the
plane back in the air as soon as possible."
Boeing and the FAA have "a very good partnership," he said,
and are working to make sure the fix "is a solution that all
sides agree is the right thing to do."
AIG unit ILFC is due to receive its first five 787s
this year. Cromer said there was no formal word from Boeing
about when the first of the jets would be delivered, but that
the schedule had shifted to summer from spring. The first jet is
leased to Norwegian Air Shuttle, he said.
McNerney said recent corporate changes at Airbus parent EADS
would make the European competitor a "stronger
"Airbus can figure out for themselves what they want to be,
but I think the model does move a little closer towards -- I
think the word (EADS chief executive) Tom (Enders) uses is -- a
normal company. I know that has a special meaning in Germany,
but I think that will create a stronger competitor, which I
think is good for the industry."
EADS shareholders on Wednesday approved sweeping changes in
control that the company says will prevent interference, despite
coinciding with a rise in European state shareholdings triggered
by Germany's decision to buy a stake from carmaker Daimler