Tuesday, April 30, 2013

787 production testing accelerating

In the last 8 days Boeing has sent 6 787s into the air for each aircraft's first flight since the grounding ended.  This included two 787s that were flown on their B-1 flights today, April 30th.  Boeing had indicated that they would aggressively conduct production testing in order to get caught up on deliveries.  Though Boeing hasn't delivered a Dreamliner since the grounding ended, they have said that deliveries would re-start in early May.  It may re-start by the end of this week though I do expect that ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) should be delivered sometime next week after customer test flights are conducted by ANA pilots.

I expect that in the next 8 weeks, Boeing should be able to deliver 787s to Air India, JAL, ANA, Qatar Airways, ILFC (for Norwegian), LOT Polish Airlines, Hainan, Thomson Airways, and China Southern.  Thus far, 787s for Hainan, Air India, ANA, Thomson, LOT Polish, and JAL have entered production test flights with the revised lithium ion battery set up and there is a pattern.

Boeing is conducting test flights roughly in order that each aircraft emerged from final assembly.  There have been exceptions most notably a Hainan airframe which does not have any engines and a couple for LOT which are expected to be delivered later in the year.  If the current pattern holds then I expect that from Everett the following will be making their first flights in this order:

ZA383 - China Southern
ZA318 - TUI
ZA319 - TUI
ZA513 - ANA
ZA185 - JAL
ZA465 - Qatar

From Charleston these aircraft will be making their first flights in this order:

ZA434 - Hainan
ZA243 - Air India
ZA384 - China Southern
ZA385 - China Southern

I estimate that Boeing can deliver between 12 to 14 787s by the end of the second quarter including a few to Chinese carriers who are expecting that the 787 will be finally given its airworthiness certificate by Chinese authorities next month.

Prior to the grounding it took Boeing about 6 weeks after rolling out a 787 to the flightline to conduct all the necessary company and customer tests, finalize paperwork and make final delivery.  I see no reason why that would change now, though some aircraft that have already had quite a few test flights done prior to the grounding won't take that long since much of the flight testing is already completed.

Flight testing will continue to pick up pretty aggressively over the next few weeks as Boeing needs to work down the inventory of 37 787s that have built up over the last few weeks.

Friday, April 26, 2013

More progress on the 787 return to flight

As the 8 airlines get closer to resuming their 787 service I've updated the list below since new information has been coming out:

ANA - early June (after completing test flights and pilot training)
Air India - around mid May
Ethiopian - April 27
JAL - early June (after completing test flights and pilot training)
LAN - unknown
LOT Polish Airlines - June 5
Qatar Airways - end of April
United Airlines - May 31st but may be able to restart earlier

Today the amended Airworthiness Directive was posted in the Federal Register thus making the FAA's certification of the battery fix official.  Any US registered 787 can now fly with the battery fix. Already Japan and Europe has followed the FAA's lead on this as has approved of Boeing's fix though I also expect that India, Ethiopia, Chile and Qatar will all follow suit fairly quickly.  The first set of 787s should be completed by now.  LOT Polish Airlines is (or already has) ferrying its 787 stranded in Chicago to Addis Ababa where a Boeing team is there to install the battery fix on the 4 aircraft belonging to Ethiopian.  Word is that LOT's second aircraft, which is currently in Warsaw, will also be flown to Ethiopia for the fix.  Qatar 787 that was stranded at London Heathrow was ferried back to Doha for the fix and one United jet at LA was ferried to San Antonio, Tx. for the repairs.

Given Japan's approval of Boeing's fix, ANA announced that starting this Sunday, May 28th, their 787s will fly about 230 test flights in order to re-train their team of 787 pilots as well as reassure their passengers that the airplane is safe to fly one.  They plan on resuming regular passenger service in June.  ANA is also looking to see a resumption of 787 deliveries with ZA512 (LN 82, JA818A) being the first 787 to be delivered since the grounding in January. It can be delivered as early as late next week but ANA pilots still have to fly the customer flights on this airplane. 

Outside of this one pending delivery, I can see LOT Polish, Air India, JAL and even China Southern and Hainan taking deliveries in May. In June we can see deliveries to Thomson, Qatar, JAL, ANA and ILFC being made.  I do expect that Boeing will now be aggressive in their production flight test program as they need to clear the inventory sitting at Everett and Charleston.

Lastly, a reader sent me this link to a video from the BBC detailing the 787 battery fix work that is going on in Ethiopia.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boeing gives upbeat assessment of 787 during earnings call

 During the 1st quarter 2013 earnings call, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney gave an upbeat assessment of the 787.  Despite the lack of 787 deliveries in the past quarter Boeing's earnings managed to stay strong given increased deliveries of the 737 and 777.  Now that the FAA has given approval to the lithium ion battery fix Boeing is prepared to resume deliveries around early May.

Among the information on the 787 that was passed along during the call were:

  • Installation has begun on 10 in service 787 and 9 production aircraft thus far.
  • Boeing initiated  a rate break to 7 aircraft/month.
  • All engineering work on the 787-9 is completed.  Final assembly will start by mid year (I'm expecting very late May. First flight this fall and first delivery in the first half of 2014.
  • 787-10 interest remains very high and Boeing anticipates formal launch "soon."  With delivery slots sold out Boeing may have to look at a further increase in the 787 production rate beyond 10/month and this issue is currently under evaluation.  The rate must be stabilize at the 10/month before consideration of a rate increase beyond that rate.
  • Travelled work is close to 0 and part shortages are minimal.
  • Most of the battery work should be completed by mid May on the in service 787s.
  • The per unit cost of producing each 787 has come down 60% from LN 8 to LN 100.
  • Boeing is maintaining its delivery guidance of more than 60 787s this year and said that 15% to 20% will be delivered in the second quarter.
Assuming a delivery goal of 65 787s this year this would mean that Boeing is planning to deliver between 10 and 13 787s by the end of June. It is possible to get a better idea of the total deliveries for this year when the number of deliveries during the 2nd quarter is known.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boeing starts 787 mods.

Here are the locations of the grounded 787 that are in service with the 8 carriers thus far.

Today 5 (morning time in Japan), Boeing started working on 5 787s belonging to ANA.  It's probably not a stretch to assume that there are modifications that are starting to be done on the other 787s around the world.  It does look like that Ethiopian will be the first to return to service as they are planning to restart service around April 25th.

Here are the current locations of the 50 in service 787s around the world:

Santiago, Chile - 3 - All LAN

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - 4 - All Ethiopian

Frankfurt, Germany - 1 - ANA

Mumbai, India - 6 - All Air India

Haneda, Japan - 11 - 10 ANA, 1 JAL

Kumamoto, Japan - 1 - ANA

Matsuyama, Japan - 1 - ANA

Narita, Japan - 8 - 1 UAL, 5 JAL, 2 ANA

Okayama, Japan - 1 - ANA

Takamatsu, Japan - 1 - ANA

Warsaw, Poland - 1 - LOT Polish Airlines

Doha, Qatar - 4 - All Qatar Airways

London, UK - 1 - Qatar Airways

Boston, USA - 1 - JAL

Chicago, USA - 1 - LOT Polish Airlines

Houston, USA - 4 - All UAL

Los Angeles, USA - 1 - UAL

Here's the list of carriers that have the 787 and when they will be returning to service (approximately):

ANA - early June (after completing test flights and pilot training)
Air India - around mid May
Ethiopian - April 25
JAL - early June (after completing test flights and pilot training)
LAN - unknown
LOT Polish Airlines - October but will probably restart earlier
Qatar Airways - end of April
United Airlines - May 31st but may be able to restart earlier

Friday, April 19, 2013

FAA give it's blessing to Boeing's 787 fix

The FAA, as expected, approved Boeing's plan to retrofit the 787s with new batteries and a new containment system to eliminate the risk of fire and electrolyte spills in the two E/E bays. Very importantly the 787 doesn't loss its ETOPs 180 certification meaning they can fly as much as 3 hours from a divert airport.  I do believe that Boeing will still pursue the ETOPS 330 certification but the FAA will make them jump through hoops for that which they will do. While the AOG (aircraft on Ground) teams from Boeing are in position, Boeing still needs to ship the kits to the locations where each aircraft is while GS Yuasa will be shipping out the new batteries to those same locations as well.

Now that the FAA has given approval the next step is for Boeing's AOG teams along with airline maintenance personnel to start preliminary work on the aircraft until they get the first kits and replacement batteries.  They will in stall them at which point it's up to the each country's aviation regulators to sign off on the modification and lift the grounding on the 787 based in that country.  The FAA says they will send out instructions to the operators detailing the fix and then publish the final airworthiness directive in the Federal Register making the approval official.  It is after that that any US-based airlines with the 787 whose aircraft has been modified under the directive will be allowed to resume revenue service of the 787.  This would apply to United Airlines as it is currently the only US operator of the aircraft but typically foreign aviation regulators follow suit.  One exception though maybe Japan's JCAB.  They may require more stringent oversight of the lithium ion batteries including more frequent visual inspections and more detailed monitoring of the voltage in each battery.

The timeline to get these airplanes flying again doesn't end with the regulators tamp of approval for each of the airlines. The carriers must engage in flight training as well as scheduling the resumption of service and, of course, sell tickets for those flights.  Some carriers may re-substitute the 787 in place of the aircraft type currently flying certain routes while other will re-start routes like the Tokyo-Boston route serviced by JAL when the fire broke out at Logan.  Routes that were temporarily suspended will likely take longer to get back on line but I see that happening by June. Still I do believe that Boeing will be able to complete work on all 50 aircraft in about 6 weeks. Each AG team has about 30 members (this jives with what I reported in an earlier post with a team in Ethiopia).  There are 10 teams that are deployed though for certain there must be several teams in Japan as well as one in Qatar and Ethiopia.  The 787s that have to be modified are in 9 different countries including the United states so it would be reasonable to assume that there are 2 teams in Japan as there are 23 787s on the ground in that country that need the modification.  I anticipate that one team each will be sent to Chile, Germany, the UK, Qatar, India, Ethiopia, Poland, and one will be in the US.

So when can flights resume? Well Ethiopian has been vocal about resuming flights next week which is possible just as long as the fix is in place and that the Ethiopian aviation regulators sign off.  Qatar Airways is also eyeing restarting revenue flights by the end of April.  I don't expect JAL and ANA to start flying until mid May at the earliest.  United is currently evaluating when they can restart their service.

Deliveries are also the minds of 787 watchers.  Boeing is concurrently modifying the 787s at Everett and Charleston.  So far as I know there are three airplanes that have the battery fix:

ZA272 (LN 86, SP-LRC) for Polish LOT
ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) for ANA
ZA380 (LN 34, B-2725) for China Southern

The later was supposed to make its first flight today but it didn't come to pass and may fly tomorrow.  One thing Boeing made clear is that they do intend to still deliver 60+ 787s this year per their guidance but they also said that production flight testing will have to be aggressively ramped up. I still believe that Boeing will have to deliver on average of 8 787s per month in order to meet heir guidance. They have to clear the current ready to deliver backlog of 34 aircraft (doesn't include any 787s that will be added to this pile in the next few months) thus they would probably clear this backlog over the next 5 to 6 months.  What is uncertain is which aircraft (other than the aforementioned three aircraft) will be delivered first.  We do know that 31 787s between Everett and Charleston will need to be modified first but I don't know which one have already been modified or of the order in which they'll be modified.  We'll only know when these airplanes take to the sly for their first flight.

When everything is all said and done, it does look like that Boeing's gamble to keep up with the current full rate production of 5/month will pay off...just as long as they can deliver the backlog sitting in Washington and South Carolina.

Here's the FAA Press Release announcing the approval:

FAA Approves Boeing 787 Battery System Design Changes

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2013
Contact: Laura Brown
Phone: (202) 267-3883

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing's design for modifications to the 787 battery system. The changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level.
Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.
“Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
To assure proper installation of the new design, the FAA will closely monitor modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The FAA will stage teams of inspectors at the modification locations. Any return to service of the modified 787 will only take place after the FAA accepts the work.
As the certifying authority, the FAA will continue to support other authorities around the world as they finalize their own acceptance procedures.
Next here is Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing to Begin Modifying 787s as FAA Approves Battery Improvements

- Modifications to existing fleets to begin; deliveries to resume soon

- Boeing to provide customers support for return to service

EVERETT, Wash., April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's approval of battery system improvements for the 787 Dreamliner by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clears the way for Boeing (NYSE: BA) and its customers to install the approved modifications and will lead to a return to service and resumption of new production deliveries.
"FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane," said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. "The promise of the 787 and the benefits it provides to airlines and their passengers remain fully intact as we take this important step forward with our customers and program partners."
The FAA's action will permit the return to service of 787s in the United States upon installation of the improvements. For 787s based and modified outside the United States, local regulatory authorities provide the final approval on return to service.
Approval of the improved 787 battery system was granted by the FAA after the agency conducted an extensive review of certification tests.  The tests were designed to validate that individual components of the battery, as well as its integration with the charging system and a new enclosure, all performed as expected during normal operation and under failure conditions. Testing was conducted under the supervision of the FAA over a month-long period beginning in early March.
"The FAA set a high bar for our team and our solution," said McNerney. "We appreciate the diligence, expertise and professionalism of the FAA's technical team and the leadership of FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood throughout this process.  Our shared commitment with global regulators and our customers to safe, efficient and reliable airplanes has helped make air travel the safest form of transportation in the world today."
Boeing, in collaboration with its supplier partners and in support of the investigations of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Japan Transport Safety Board, conducted extensive engineering analysis and testing to develop a thorough understanding of the factors that could have caused the 787's batteries to fail and overheat in two incidents last January.  The team spent more than 100,000 hours developing test plans, building test rigs, conducting tests and analyzing the results to ensure the proposed solutions met all requirements.
"Our team has worked tirelessly to develop a comprehensive solution that fully satisfies the FAA and its global counterparts, our customers and our own high standards for safety and reliability," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. "Through the skill and dedication of the Boeing team and our partners, we achieved that objective and made a great airplane even better."
Boeing also engaged a team of more than a dozen battery experts from across multiple industries, government, academia and consumer safety to review and validate the company's assumptions, findings, proposed solution and test plan.
The improved battery system includes design changes to both prevent and isolate a fault should it occur. In addition, improved production, operating and testing processes have been implemented. The new steel enclosure system is designed to keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or even being noticed by passengers.
"This is a comprehensive and permanent solution with multiple layers of protection," said Conner.  "The ultimate layer of protection is the new enclosure, which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire. We have the right solution in hand, and we are ready to go.
"We are all very grateful to our customers for their patience during the past several months," said Conner. "We know it hasn't been easy on them to have their 787s out of service and their deliveries delayed. We look forward to helping them get back into service as quickly as possible."
Boeing has deployed teams to locations around the world to begin installing improved battery systems on 787s. Kits with the parts needed for the new battery systems are staged for shipment and new batteries also will be shipped immediately. Teams have been assigned to customer locations to install the new systems.  Airplanes will be modified in approximately the order they were delivered.
"The Boeing team is ready to help get our customers' 787s back in the air where they belong," said Conner.
Boeing will also begin installing the changes on new airplanes at the company's two 787 final-assembly plants, with deliveries expected to resume in the weeks ahead. Despite the disruption in deliveries that began in January, Boeing expects to complete all planned 2013 deliveries by the end of the year. Boeing further expects that the 787 battery issue will have no significant impact to its 2013 financial guidance.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wall Street Journal: 787 battery re-certification approval to come Friday, April 19

In an article released this evening, the Wall Street Journal says the FAA will certify the redesign battery and battery containment system as safe for commercial use by tomorrow, April 19th.  This will allow Boeing to immediately begin work on retrofitting the 50 787s around the world with the new design and allow the airlines to resume regular passenger service as early as the end of this month. Anticipate that it will take Boeing about 6 weeks to retrofit all 50 airplanes while teams of technicians will do the same to 787s at Everett and Charleston.

Boeing resumed regular production testing today and I expect a slew of 787s to take to the skies on their B-1 flights starting as early as tomorrow.  Boeing has 34 787 in Charleston and Everett awaiting production flight tests and delivery. Deliveries can resume, I believe as early as the last week of April though May is a better bet.  Boeing will need to deliver about 8 787s a month to clear the backlog that has built up over the last three months.  This is doable but will be a challenge.


BREAKING: Boeing confirms resuming 787 production test flights

Boeing confirmed to me that they are resuming standard Boeing production flight testing under the approval of the FAA.  The production flights will be normal Boeing flights meant to validate the aircraft's systems.  There are no restrictions that the FAA has placed on these aircraft.  All airplanes that are to be production tested will have the new batteries and the containment system installed.  ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) for ANA was the first aircraft to fly today and fly with the new battery and containment system on a functional check flight.

We should see more and more 787s parked in Everett and Charleston to start conducting their standard B-1, B-2 and C-1, C-2 flights but these airplanes won't be delivered until the FAA has certified the batteries and the containment system for commercial use.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Source: Boeing anticipating FAA to recertify 787 around April 24th

A source in Ethiopia revealed that a team of 30 Boeing engineers, technicians and PR specialists landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to prepare the 787s owned by Ethiopian for return to flight.  The Boeing team is doing some prep work on the aircraft prior to the FAA decision which, according to the source, is believed by Boeing will be handed down around April 24th. 

The Boeing team includes Rob Faye, worldwide sales director and Dennis Lucas, a Boeing technical director.  It is believed though not confirmed that Randy Tinseth along with Adam Morgan and executive with Boeing's International Communications will also be there but are still awaiting the FAA's decision.

The team will work on one aircraft at a time and should have Ethiopian's 4 787s ready to fly in about 3 to 4 weeks after the FAA approves the change.

Of course this date is not a firm date but a date that Boeing believes the FAA will announce its decision.

FAA says 787 decision to some "soon" and are re-examing ETOPS certification

FAA chief Mike Huerta, testified yesterday that the FA has all the documentation that Boeing has submitted to re-certify the 787 lithium ion batteries and that a decision will come soon but they won't be rushed into a decision.  He said that the FAA will approve it when "we are satisfied Boeing has shown the redesigned battery system meets FAA requirements."  Boeing is ready to go and start implementing the modifications once the FAA has signed off which may come as early as this week.  Several carriers (Qatar Airways and Ethiopian) have said that they plan to resume 787 revenue service as early as this month.  ANA and JAL are expecting a return to service next month and United expects to be flying again late in May. No word on when LOT Polish, LAN, or Air India will return to service though expect that by mid June they will all be flying the 787 again.

On fly in the ointment is the FAA's review of the 787's ETOPS 180 certification.  This is being done independent of the battery certification.  I'm not sure what the basis of the ETOPs review (other than the battery issue) is on.  If the basis of the review is solely on the battery issue, then I do expect that the FAA should re-affirm the ETOPS 180 certification as the battery containment system will add a level of safety to the airplane in the event of a thermal runaway in the battery such that it won't bring down the aircraft and should allow the aircraft enough time to divert to an airport.

It also seems to me that if Boeing wants to certify the 787 for ETOPs 330 they will need to run new certification flights for that purpose using the battery and the new containment system in different failure modes. Given that the 787-9 launch customer, Air New Zealand, requires ETOPs 330 when they take delivery, I expect that these tests will take place by the end of the year or very early in the 1st quarter of 2014.

Is there a chance that the FAA can restrict the 787s ability to fly ETOPS (either partially or fully)? Absolutely. Will they do it is another question but I am sure Boeing is in communication with them on this issue as well as ETOPs 330.

I still do expect that Boeing will resume deliveries by middle to late May if the approval is given soon (this week) but there probably are political considerations for the FAA before the approval is given. We'll see.  Scott Hamilton expects approval after the NTSB hearings on the 787 battery certification that is to take place on April 23-24.

Monday, April 15, 2013

787 battery re-certification looks to be getting closer

It appears that the FAA's re-certification of the lithium ion batteries is getting closer.  First, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that the approval will happen "soon" though the FAA isn't going to be rushed in its analysis of Boeing's data.

Another piece of news that indicates the decision is right over the horizon is an article from a local Ethiopian news website saying that Ethiopian's 787s will be the first airlines to return to service though I do suspect that this is more hopeful thinking as Boeing will focus on getting ANA's fleet back up in the air first. The article doesn't say when Ethiopian will resume flying though and it is up to each individual carrier when they will resume revenue service once their 787s are modified.

Nevertheless, it does give more of an indication of the trend in the belief that this grounding will very soon be over.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

787 customers eyeing return to service; Qatar expecting to resume flying by end of April

Qatar Airways' chief, Akbar Al Baker, is not one to shy away from the media or make over exaggerated announcements but at the inauguration of Qatar's service between Doha and Chicago, he stated that Qatar fleet of 787s will be back in service well before May 31st which is when United plans to resume 787 operations.  Jon Ostrower of the Wall Street Journal tweeted that Qatar is planning to have the 4 of 5 787s returned to service by the end of April.  Whether this is realistic or not is another question.  Jon later tweeted Boeing is responding to the FAA request for additional information though it is unknown what they had requested.  It has been widely anticipated that the FAA would have additional questions.  Given that the month of April is 1/3 over it does seem far fetched that the FAA will issue their decision so that Qatar would have 4 787s ready by the end of the month.  I don't see the FAA decision coming down before April 15th at the earliest. However It is entirely possible for Qatar to have their 787s back in the air by mid May.  Again this is all dependent on when the FAA will issue their decision. It should be noted that several 787 operators are planning to resume operations within the next month and a half including ANA.

On the production front Boeing is still producing airplanes at about 5 per month though in the next month and a half the Charleston line will be increasing their rate to 2/month.  I believe that the Everett line will increase to 5/month during this same period. Boeing's guidance was an increase in rate from 5 to 7 around mid 2013.  This would mean the rate break would occur around early June. The rate increase makes it more imperative that Boeing gets the FAA approval for he battery fix.  As of today there are 31 787s (25 in Everett and 6 in Charleston) that ready for pre-flight or to continue the post production tests that had started prior to the grounding.  If the rate break is to occur in early June, Boeing will have to resume deliveries around the same time and deliver at a rate of 2 to 2.5 airplanes per week in order to clear the inventory of production aircraft sitting at both facilities over the 30 weeks starting in early June.  This is an attainable delivery rate if Boeing can resume production ground and flight tests by the first week of May.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

787 Return to Service now in the hands of the FAA

On Friday April 5th Boeing conducted the one and only certification test flight on ZA272 (LN 86, SP-LRC) for their proposed fix to the lithium ion battery issues that have bought worldwide 787 to a halt.  Boeing had already conducted the ground test of the battery containment system on ZA005 (LN 5, N787FT).  In that test the battery was intentionally short circuited to allow a thermal runway to occur thus testing the ability of the new containment system to prevent smoke, flame and electrolytes from escaping thus risking the aircraft and passengers.

The test flight which lasted about 2 hours is the final items that needed by the FAA in order for order for them to certify the battery fix.  In the next few days Boeing will turn over all the remaining data that is needed. The FAA and Boeing will have a continuous dialogue over the next few weeks and the FAA may even require more tests before giving its approval but the general consensus is that the FAA will give its approval to the fix and approve of Boeing's Service Bulletin & amend the emergency Airworthiness Directive it issued in mid January grounding the 787.  Boeing has teams in place to start implementing the fix once the FAA (and other international aviation regulators like Japan's JCAB and Europe's EASA) have approved. 

The fix will take 4 to 5 days to install on each aircraft though I think it's reasonable to assume that multiple aircraft will be worked on at the same time.  Assuming that Boeing has (according to reports in the media) 8 teams ready to implement the fix along with the associated hardware at the ready, it will take Boeing about 6 weeks to return all 50 delivered 787s to service.  If the approval is given by middle of April then it is reasonable to assume that the 50 787s that are grounded can resume regular revenue service by early June depending on the individual airline's readiness to do so.

So how long until deliveries begin? Boeing will have 30+ 787s ready for delivery but waiting for the battery fix to be installed. I don't have any information as to how many of these service ready 787s can be modified each week but I think it is reasonable to assume that Boeing can have up to 3 ready each week to continue the standard pre delivery ground and flight test regimen once the FAA has given its approval. I am also assuming that Boeing will start ground and flight tests from scratch given the new equipment that is being installed would also need to be tested out on each aircraft.  Thus I'm assuming about 5 weeks for all pre-delivery ground and flight tests to be conducted prior to delivery.  This would translate to roughly 6 weeks before Boeing resumes regular 787 deliveries.  This would mean that deliveries can resume as early as the beginning of June.  It still uncertain how many 787s Boeing can deliver this year until deliveries actually re-start and the rate of battery modifications are determined but at the moment they're maintaining their 787 delivery guidance at 60+.  It is still possible to reach that goal but it would mean that Boeing will have to undertake an aggressive rate of production testing on the 30+ 787s that are on the lines at Everett and Charleston.

An added complication are the NTSB hearings scheduled for the second half of April concerning the lithium ion battery technology as well as the FAA's certification of the 787's battery system along with Senate hearings into the FAA approval process for the 787.  While I don't expect any earth shattering news out of any of these three hearings pundits wondered aloud if these hearings will have any bearing on the timing of FAA approval, with some saying that the FAA won't give its approval until after the hearings are done. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood even said that the fix that Boeing has proposed appears to be good.  Whenever the FAA gives its decision, it does appear that Boeing in on the verge of overcoming yet another issue related to the Dreamliner.