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Boeing Dreamliner takes flight in Japan for first time in months

From Yoko Wakatusi, CNN
April 29, 2013 -- Updated 1020 GMT (1820 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Boeing: We will work with customers to return more 787s to flight in coming weeks
  • The All Nippon test flight took off from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, airline officials say
  • A Boeing executive is among those aboard, but commercial passengers were not
  • U.S. aviation authorities outlined steps recently to the Dreamliner's battery system

Tokyo (CNN) -- A Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off Sunday from a Tokyo airport, the first such flight in Japan since safety issues grounded the Dreamliner fleet, officials told CNN.

Japan had authorized passenger airlines to resume flying the embattled aircraft in the country starting Friday, authorities said.

The first test flight in Japan was Sunday, All Nippon Airways officials said.

It left Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Sunday morning with a team of All Nippon engineers, that airline's chairman, Shinichiro Ito, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner. The plane landed about two hours later without incident, Boeing said.

"With the successful completion of today's flight, Boeing will continue to work closely with airline customers in Japan and other countries on ... modification work to safely return additional 787s to flight in the coming weeks," Boeing said in a statement.

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The flight marked a milestone in Japan, but the plane wasn't the first Dreamliner to take flight since the problems first surfaced. Ethiopian Airlines flew passengers from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday.

Boeing Dreamliner back in skies

Nearly 50 Dreamliners around the world have been grounded for more than three months, after two incidents on jets operated by Japanese airlines called the battery systems into question.

Officials later pointed to faulty battery systems in recommending the planes be grounded.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing to make fixes to the problematic battery system. Boeing said it was deploying teams to help the airlines install the redesigned system.

In an online posting Thursday, the FAA outlined the modifications necessary for the Dreamliner to fly again.

By the next day, All Nippon and Japan Airlines -- the world's two largest Dreamliner operators -- had already begun installing modified lithium ion batteries on their 787 jets.

The Dreamliner's use of lightweight composite materials to greatly improve fuel economy has made it a big seller in Asia and the Middle East, where long-haul flights account for much of an airline's business.

Dreamliners inching toward the runway

CNN's Greg Botelho and Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.

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