Boeing Co. (BA)’s biggest customer for the 787 Dreamliner, International Lease Finance Corp., is confident that the planemaker will figure out how to fix the battery faults that grounded the jet.
“Boeing is quite sure we’re talking about a battery,” ILFC Chief Executive Officer Henri Courpron said today in an interview in Dublin. “We’re not talking about the shape of the wing” or a structural defect imperiling the 787’s airworthiness, he said.
The 787 was grounded last week by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and regulators worldwide. While investigators are focusing on the lithium-ion batteries and electrical system, they haven’t zeroed in on the cause of a Jan. 7 fire on a Japan Airlines Co. (9201) 787 in Boston or a battery-related cockpit warning that led to a Jan. 16 emergency landing in Japan.
Courpron, whose lessor has 74 Dreamliners on order, said management at the Chicago-based planemaker “is doing everything they can to understand the problem.” No one yet has a “firm handle” on the jet’s issues, he said.
ILFC, the Los Angeles-based plane-leasing unit of insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG), is an important customer because it places jets with multiple carriers. The biggest 787 buyer among airlines is Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. (9202), which has 66 on order, according to Boeing’s website. Last week’s emergency landing involved an ANA plane.
AIG’s sale of an 80.1 percent stake in ILFC to a group of Chinese investors for $4.23 billion is still targeted to close in the second quarter, said Courpron, who commented on the sidelines of an aviation-finance conference sponsored by Airline Economics magazine.
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