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Dreamliners take to the air again for 1st time in 3 months

by NBC News staff and wire reports /  / Updated 
A Boeing 787 of All Nippon Airways lands after a test flight at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Sunday, April 28, 2013.
A Boeing 787 of All Nippon Airways lands after a test flight at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Sunday, April 28, 2013.Shizuo Kambayashi / AP

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All Nippon Airways, the Japanese launch customer for Boeing Co's 787, flew its first Dreamliner in more than three months on Sunday to test reinforced batteries installed by the U.S. aircraft maker.

The ANA flight was the second by an airline since aviation regulators on Friday gave permission for 787 operations to restart after batteries on two of them overheated in mid January. One was on an ANA plane in Japan and another on a Japan Airlines jet parked at Boston's Logan airport.

Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday became the world's first carrier to resume flying Dreamliner passenger jets since the global fleet was grounded three months ago, carrying passengers to neighboring Kenya from Ethiopia.

The Boeing 787 passenger jet arrived in Nairobi on Saturday afternoon after a two-hour trip from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, according to the Kenya airport website. The Dreamliner arrived at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 12:40 p.m. local time, according to the Kenya Airports Authority.

The ANA flight, with company president Shinichiro Ito and Boeing's chief of commercial aircraft, Ray Conner, among those on board, left Tokyo's Haneda airport at 8:59 a.m. local time. It returned without incident at 10:54 a.m., a spokesman for the airline said.

"Boeing is pleased to see the first 787 Dreamliner in Japan return to flight. All Nippon Airlines (ANA) successfully conducted a proving flight today from Haneda Airport, carrying ANA and Boeing executives as well as flight test engineers," a statement from the aircraft manufacturer said.

ANA plans at least 230 test flights through May before resuming commercial operations. In addition to the battery fix approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau has requested its airlines monitor the battery current while the jet is in the air and inspect used batteries.

ANA owns 17 of the 50 Dreamliners, which have been grounded since mid January, while local rival JAL has seven of the carbon composite aircraft in its fleet.

JAL will start test flying its Dreamliners early next month with the aim of returning to normal operation in June. Neither Japanese carrier, which on Tuesday will release their earnings results for the three months that ended March 31, have said how much the 787 grounding has cost them in lost revenue.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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