Saudia won't accept Dreamliner without safety guarantee

Boss of Saudi flag carrier moves to assure the public he won’t receive 8 ordered Boeing jets unless they’re safe, after battery problems

The head of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said he will not accept eight ordered Boeing Dreamliner jets next year unless the US manufacturer guarantees the aircraft’s safety following problems with the battery in 2013.

Every Dreamliner globally was grounded for three months a year ago after a battery caught fire in Japan, then another in Ethiopia in July.

Airline executives have since expressed their confidence in the aircraft but Saudia acting director general Abdul Aziz Al Hazmi said he would seek further assurance from Boeing before accepting the eight jets ordered.

“We have been following the problem related to the Dreamliner’s battery system. We’ll not receive the plane from Boeing unless it gives us an official assurance that the problem has been solved,” Al Hazmi told Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat.

“According to our information, Boeing has found a solution to the overheating of the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries. They have to do it because many international airlines are using this aircraft.”

Al Hazmi said his organisation would not be lenient on issues of passenger and aircraft safety.

“We give top priority to safety,” he claimed.

The Dreamliner is Boeing’s newest and most sophisticated passenger jet and it is the first time the US manufacturer has used lithium-ion batteries on a commercial aircraft.

UAE company Strata, an aerostructures manufacturing firm owned by Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Aerospace, is set to produce vertical rib parts for the Dreamliner at its Al Ain base.

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