As has widely been reported, operators of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are required to comply with an Air Worthiness Directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
The FAA Directive
The FAA Directive applies to operators of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with certain engine models manufactured by Rolls Royce.
It limits the scope of the ETOPS (“Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standard”). ETOPS allows twin-engined aircraft like the Boeing 787 to operate between 60 and 330 minutes’ away from the nearest airport that can handle a diversion of the aircraft. This Directive may be modified subject to remedial action by Rolls Royce.
The requirement for additional maintenance to Rolls Royce engines has been going on for some time and has impacted a number of airlines, notably Air New Zealand, Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic. All have leased in aircraft to cover some flights. BA has also cancelled its flight to Doha for an extended period of time to release aircraft for other routes.
BA has made no official statement on the impact of this directive on the airline. As such, it is not known how many of its aircraft are affected. However, as BA currently operates the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on a number of long-range routes to Asia and Latin America, it will inevitably have an impact on the airline’s operations.
BA may choose to substitute aircraft at short notice, or cancel flights as aircraft undergo maintenance.
The Boeing 787 at BA
The Boeing 787 represents about 20% of BA’s widebody fleet. Please see here for a full guide to BA’s fleet plan.
BA has 9 Boeing 787-8 aircraft in service. These all operate in a three class configuration, with no First Class. They are the ordinarily the sole aircraft, bar occasional substitutions, to operate on routes such as Baltimore, Calgary, Chennai, Hyderabad, Montreal, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and, from Friday 4 May 2018, Nashville.
BA has 17 Boeing 787-9 aircraft in service. These all operate in a four class configuration. They are ordinarily the sole aircraft to operate on routes such as Abu Dhabi, Luanda, Mexico City, Muscat, Santiago, San Jose, The Seychelles and Tokyo Narita.
The 787 also operates selected frequencies to Cairo, Los Angeles, Moscow, Mumbai, Newark, and Toronto. These vary by both flight number and day of operation.
BA is due to take delivery of a further 3 Boeing 787-8, 1 Boeing 787-9 and 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft and these are not expected to be affected by this issue.
The impact of the FAA Directive on Boeing 787 operations
The FAA Directive is having an impact on flight schedules and operations.
Los Angeles and San Jose have been subject to blanket cancellations, as detailed below. The following flights have also been subject to cancellations:
|Wednesday 18 April 2018||BA278 / BA279||San Jose|
|Thursday 19 / Saturday 21 April 2018||BA77 / BA 78||Luanda|
|Monday 23 April 2018||BA278 / BA279||San Jose|
|Tuesday 24 April 2018||BA184 / BA185||Newark
|Wednesday 25 April 2018||BA228 / BA229||Baltimore|
|Thursday 26 April 2018||BA188 / BA189||Newark|
|Friday 27 April 2018||BA68 / BA69||Philadelphia|
|Sunday 29 April 2018||BA228 / BA229||Baltimore|
|Monday 30 April 2018||BA278 / BA279||San Jose|
|Tuesday 1 May||BA92 / BA93||Toronto Pearson|
|Tuesday 1 / Wednesday 2 May 2018||BA5 / BA6||Tokyo Narita|
|Wednesday 2 May 2018||BA278 / BA279||San Jose|
|Thursday 3 / 5 May 2018||BA77 BA78||Luanda|
Los Angeles Cancellations
BA281 from London Heathrow to Los Angeles, and the return BA280, is cancelled up to Thursday 5 July 2018 (excluding Friday 25 to Thursday 31 May 2018).
Passengers can be re-accommodated on one of four daily American Airlines and BA flights from London Heathrow to Los Angeles.
San Jose Cancellations
BA279 from London Heathrow to San Jose, and the return BA278, is cancelled for the periods Friday 1 to Sunday 3 June and Saturday 9 to Sunday 17 June 2018.
Passengers can travel an alternative date near to their original date of travel, or to an alternative destination within 300 miles of San Jose, such as San Francisco. However, any consequential costs will be at your expense.
There are likely to be further adjustments to schedules, principally through substitutions of aircraft. There are also unconfirmed reports that BA will bring two Boeing 747s from storage back into service. Due to the length of time these have been out of service it will take some time to carry out the necessary engineering checks before they can operate with passengers.
Tokyo Narita Cancellations
BA5 from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita, and the return BA6, is cancelled for the period Saturday 9 June to Tuesday 26 June 2018.
Passengers can choose to fly on BA or Japan Airlines services from London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda (or to Tokyo Narita via Helsinki on Finnair or via Madrid on Iberia).
Guidance for passengers
As stated above, BA has not issued any comment or guidance on the issue.
Given the diversity of BA’s route network and long-haul aircraft types, the most likely outcome is that operating aircraft will be changed at short notice.
BA also does not proactively notify passengers if the operating aircraft type has changed. When it does, seating assignments will be lost and in-flight entertainment systems will vary. First Class may also not be available.
If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund and you should be offered re-accommodation on an alternative flight.