FAA Says Boeing Needs to Address Battery Risks Before Dreamliners Will Fly Again
Federal Aviation Administration officials announced they are reviewing a proposal from Boeing to allow the Dreamliner to fly again, following a meeting on Friday between FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, and senior Boeing executives including including Ray Conner, head of the aircraft maker’s commercial airplanes unit.
The FAA released a formal statement following the meeting, at which Boeing presented a plan to modify the 787’s battery systems with the hope that the FAA will end the plane’s grounding, which started on January 16, following two fires that originated in the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries.
The FAA later said it is “reviewing a Boeing proposal and will analyze it closely,” adding that the “safety of the flying public is its top priority.” The agency “will not allow the 787 to return to commercial service until we’re confident that any proposed solution has addressed the battery failure risks.”
Boeing said that the talks were “productive” and that the company “was encouraged by the progress.”
Boeing proposed a ten-point package that includes installing a fireproof container around the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries, new venting system for fumes, and changes in the cockpit checklist. Boeing also said it plans to develop a new battery design that will measure the temperature and any voltage changes in individual cells.
On Wednesday, Japanese regulators investigating one of the battery fires said that the battery of the Dreamliner’s auxiliary power unit had been incorrectly connected to the main lithium-ion battery that overheated. It further stated that a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from causing any damage.