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Tougher certification after Boeing 787 woes: EADS

Tom Enders, CEO of European aerospace giant EADS, speaks during a press conference on February 27, 2013
Tom Enders, CEO of European aerospace giant EADS, speaks during a press conference on February 27, 2013. Boeing's recent problems with the 787 Dreamliner aircraft have likely left regulators "a little bit nervous" about approving other planes, Enders said

Boeing's recent problems with the 787 Dreamliner aircraft have likely left regulators "a little bit nervous" about approving other planes, the chief executive of EADS said Thursday.

"I think the certification authorities, whether it's the FAA or any other, are probably a little bit nervous about these new planes now coming in, about the materials and the systems and the processes," said EADS chief executive Tom Enders.

"This is why we have refrained from... any schadenfreude about the problems in the 787, because we have had similar problems in the past," Enders said in a breakfast meeting with reporters in New York.

EADS's plane-making unit Airbus is at the early stage of the Federal Aviation Administration certification process of its A-350 aircraft, which, like the Dreamliner, boasts lighter weight and better fuel-efficiency.

"If industry runs into trouble, particularly as certification is concerned, that affects not just one manufacturer, but others as well," Enders said.

Enders's comments came as Airbus's chief competitor Boeing continues to work closely with the FAA to fix lithium-ion battery problems that led regulators to ground all 50 787s in use in mid-January.

Lithium-ion batteries burned on two 787s in January, causing a fire on a parked airplane at Boston's Logan Airport and smoke that caused an emergency landing in Japan.

On Monday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said the company would move "really fast" to get the 787 back in the air once the FAA approves its proposed battery fix.

Enders said one lesson from the Dreamliner's problems is that there may be a benefit to upgrading existing aircraft rather than embarking on entirely new designs.

"It's not completely risk-free" to modify existing designs, Enders said. "But it's of course much less risky than developing new aircraft and it comes for the fraction of the cost."

Enders said that the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company had not gained business due to Boeing's problems with the 787 Dreamliner.

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