Dreamliner battery not at fault

The worldwide investigation into Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft amidst fears regarding its safety has concluded that the airplane’s battery is not at fault as first thought.

US safety officials have ruled out overcharging as the cause of the battery fire, and are now focusing on the aircraft’s battery charger and auxiliary power unit.

UK airlines Thomson Airways and British Airways are both scheduled to receive their first Dreamliner aircraft in May this year, but this is now in doubt since – as of Friday January 18 – Boeing has put deliveries of the aircraft on hold until the Federal Aviation Administration has approved its plan to assure the battery’s safety.

The global grounding of Dreamliner aircraft came last week after Japan-based All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing during one of its flights when a warning light came on in the cockpit and indicated a battery problem. Japanese investigators said that the problem could be due to an overcharging battery, but the US National Transportation Safety Board has now said that overcharging was not the cause of the incident.

In a statement, the NTSB said, ‘Examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B787 airplane indicates that the APU (auxiliary power unit) battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.’

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s commercial aircraft marketing vice president, commented, ‘The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service. According to the FAA’s recent announcement, operations can resume once airlines have demonstrated the batteries are safe. Boeing is working with the FAA to define that process and timeline.’

Mercure Milton Keynes Abbey Hill Hotel announces launch

The new Mercure Milton Keynes Abbey Hill Hotel, formerly the Abbey Hill Hotel, is being launched following a refurbishment that has cost £1.5m.

The Mercure brand has announced that its latest property, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK, features a decorative theme throughout its public spaces that is inspired by nature. This includes the hotel’s 60-seat restaurant, 50-person capacity bar and lobby area, and its 88 bedrooms. For business guests and private functions, the hotel can also provide five state-of-the-art meeting rooms.

The hotel is located conveniently close to Milton Keynes town centre, five minutes’ drive from the town’s railway station, and adjacent to the Abbey Hill Golf Course.

Guests have the option of booking one of the hotel’s 12 Privilege rooms, which offer 28 square metres of accommodation with views across the golf course, super-king size beds, a complimentary mini-bar, Nespresso coffee maker, bathrobe and slippers, additional toiletries, a Jacuzzi bathtub and a sofa seating area.

Meanwhile, the hotel’s new restaurant, Moltens, will introduce an interactive dining experience this February, with diners able to cook their own choice of meat or fish on volcanic slates that are heated to 440 degrees C. The restaurant intends to cater for the more adventurous meat eater by this summer with the introduction of venison, ostrich and crocodile to the menu, but will also offer a full range of vegetarian options.

Nazim Manji, chairman and CEO of Clubhouse Group, owner and operator of the new Mercure property says, ‘After months of hard work we are thrilled to be unveiling the newest hotel in the thriving business hub of Milton Keynes, which is said to become one of England’s largest cities by 2031. The hotel was one of the first purpose built business hotels in Milton Keynes around 1987, so we are pleased to be carrying on the legacy. The new facilities will better serve our business market whilst also appealing to those that visit the region’s many attractions at weekends.’

Jonathan Sheard, managing director of operations for MGallery and Mercure Hotels, Northern Europe, commented, ‘The Mercure Milton Keynes Abbey Hill Hotel is a fantastic addition to the growing Mercure network in the UK. Each Mercure hotel has its own unique story and this hotel is no different. We are very pleased to welcome it on board.’

Manchester Airports buys Stansted for £1.5bn

Manchester Airports Group, the owners of the Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports in the UK, has agreed to buy Stansted Airport for £1.5bn.

The UK’s fourth busiest airport by passenger numbers is being sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA, following the organisation’s decision not to contest an order from competition regulators for it to sell Stansted. Three of the UK’s largest airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, were all originally owned by BAA, but following pressure from the Competition Commission, BAA will now only retain Heathrow and a few smaller airports, including Glasgow.

The leading shareholders in Manchester Airports Group are Greater Manchester’s 10 councils. Charlie Cornish, Manchester Airlines Group chief executive, said, ‘We are delighted to be successful in our bid for Stansted Airport, the London airport for Europe. The transaction represents a significant milestone in the achievement of our previously stated strategy of adding a quality airport to the group and delivering long-term value to our shareholders.’

Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said, ‘Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time. We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.’

MAG serves around 24 million passengers and handles 500,000 tons of airfreight every year across its existing airport properties, contributing £3.2bn to the UK economy and supporting in excess of 130,000 jobs.

The sale is expected to close by the beginning of March this year.