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Boeing works to regain public trust in 787, resumes deliveries

May 15, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan
(Mathew Thompson / Boeing…)

Boeing Co. is working to regain confidence in its beleaguered 787 Dreamliner jet by giving people with safety concerns a chance to participate in a live video chat with the plane’s chief product engineer.

Around the world, all 787s had been grounded from Jan. 16 until late last month because of safety concerns with the plane's lithium-ion battery system. Now the Chicago company is working to regain the trust of the flying public.

Boeing is hosting the live chat Thursday at 12:30 p.m. PDT on its website with Mike Sinnett, 787 vice president and chief project engineer, and Capt. Heather Ross, flight test pilot. The company said the pair plan to take questions and discuss program milestones.

FULL COVERAGE: Boeing's troubled Dreamliner

This is not what the aerospace giant had planned for the 787, which the company promoted as "defining 21st century flight."

Boeing has had to redesign the 787’s battery system after two overheating incidents this year -- one of which resulted in a fire.

Before the grounding order, the company delivered 50 of the planes to eight airlines worldwide, including United Airlines, the only U.S. carrier that operates 787s.

The planes that were already built had to be retrofitted with the new design, and some airlines have already begun 787 commercial flights. United said it plans to enter its planes into operation on May 31.

PHOTOS: Inside airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliners

During that time, Boeing had not been allowed to deliver any new 787s but continued building them.

On Monday, the company confirmed that is has resumed 787 deliveries. The program has more than 800 unfilled orders with 58 customers worldwide.

Boeing said it has increased the production rate of seven airplanes per month. The program is set to reach 10 per month by year-end.

Final assembly of the 787 is in Everett, Wash., as well as in North Charleston, S.C., but the bulk of the large components arrive from suppliers around the world already assembled. There are about 50 suppliers in California alone.

For the Record, 8:58 a.m. May 16: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the final assembly line in North Charleston, S.C., is temporary.

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