Update: The Wall Street Journal has a long article (subscription required) discussing the problem and the possibility the FAA could release the 787s for service if it approves interim steps designed by Boeing. It also has this illustration:
The grounding of the Boeing 787 by the US Federal Aviation Administration wasn’t entirely unexpected, based on discussions we had in the last 48 hours with people in the US and in Europe.
Although the FAA did not pull the Airworthiness Certificate of the airplane, the grounding had virtually the same effect.
Airlines throughout the world followed suit and some of the regulatory agencies followed the FAA lead.
We’ve been inundated with media calls asking about the ramifications. Here’s a synopsis of the questions and our responses.
American Airlines announced that it plans to retrofit Boeing 777-200s and half its Boeing 767-300ER fleet with lie-flat business class seats as a means to upgrade its international service. AA also announced that it plans to retrofit only half of the 767 fleet and retire the rest.
IAM 751 Tweets that the retirement will start about 2015.
Does this mean American is preparing to at long last firm up its MOU for up to 100 Boeing 787s? The MOU was made several years ago, but was never firmed pending resolution of pilot contract negotiations. This, of course, hasn’t happened, and now in bankruptcy, American is moving under Section 1113 of the bankruptcy code to void the contract (and other labor agreements) and to impose its own terms.
This fleet upgrade and retirement announced suggests to us that American might be nearing a resolution (under 1113 if nowhere else) that will lead to firming up the 787 order.
No wonder Jim McNerney favors an American solution to a US Airways merger.
Update, December 21: Flightblogger’s piece (referred to in the Dec. 19 update below) is now up: The price of the 787 sales success.
Dominic Gates published this story for the Sunday Seattle Times; it’s not good news for the 787.
Update, Dec. 19: There is more to come, this time from Flightblogger in the next day or two.