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Dreamliner Grounded Until At Least End Of May

(c) Sky News 2013

The airline operating the biggest Boeing Dreamliner fleet has announced its planes will remain grounded until at least the end of May.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) made the decision following continuing technical and safety woes for Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) 's hi-tech plane.

The flight suspension takes the total affected flights to more than 3,600 since the Dreamliner was grounded globally in January.

After the ANA announcement was made the US-based aircraft manufacturer said: "Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the schedules of our customers and their passengers."

Earlier this month Boeing warned there could be further production delays as a result of unresolved grounding issues.

UK-based operators including BA and Thomson Airways are expecting deliveries of 787s before the end of May, while Virgin is due to receive the first of its Dreamliners in the summer of 2014.

A spokesperson for BA told Sky News that the airline is still expecting to take delivery of its planes by the due date, while Thomson Airways confirmed it has yet to be given a new delivery date for its first 787 Dreamliner. 

Boeing does not discuss publicly any specifics about individual customer deliveries.

On February 22 Boeing said: "We are encouraged by the progress being made toward resolving the issue and returning the 787 to flight for our customers and their passengers around the world.

"We are committed to taking every necessary step to assure our customers and the travelling public of the integrity of the 787, and won’t hesitate in our efforts to continually improve the safety and reliability of our products."

ANA said it would cancel 1,714 flights in April and May, a period that includes Japan's busy Golden Week holidays.

"Unfortunately, it includes Golden Week, but we have decided to inform our customers in advance as the prospect for their resumption is still unseen," a company spokeswoman said.

ANA is Boeing's biggest Dreamliner customer so far, with 17 of the world's 50 operational 787s. Japan Airlines (JAL) is another key 787 operator, with seven of the planes.

Around a third of the components of the composite construction aircraft are made in Japan, including the lithium-ion batteries that have been central to the model's grounding.

The next-generation aircraft suffered a series of glitches culminating in a global alert from the US Federal Aviation Administration after two incidents involving the battery packs.

All operational 787s were grounded in January after smoke was detected mid-air on a flight in Japan.

That incident came just days after the lithium-ion battery pack caught fire when a JAL-operated plane was parked at Boston's Logan airport.

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