Boeing 787 Dreamliner Cleared For Flight

By Paul Riegler on 19 April 2013
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ANA's Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

ANA’s Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

The Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s plan for a series of fixes to the advanced lithium-ion batteries on its 787 Dreamliner aircraft on Friday, a move that will allow the grounded planes to return to passenger service in the near future.  Boeing will also be able to resume deliveries of new Dreamliners to its customers.

The FAA said that it will issue instructions to operators “that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications.”  The Dreamliner was grounded on January 16 after two fires caused by the plane’s lithium-ion batteries took place on two separate aircraft.  Regulators around the world followed suit and the entire fleet of 50 787s in the hands of airlines was grounded as were any aircraft Boeing had manufactured but not yet delivered.  The FAA is requiring the installation of new fire containment and venting systems for the two lithium-ion batteries as well as the replacement of existing batteries and chargers with modified components that Boeing already demonstrated to the agency.

The FAA move only applies to United Airlines, the sole U.S. operator of the Dreamliner. However, foreign regulators and operators of the aircraft are expected to follow the agency’s lead and allow planes to reenter service.

“These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement.

Boeing worked around the clock to come up with a solution that would meet with the FAA’s approval and allow the Dreamliner to reenter service.  At the beginning of April, the airframe maker completed the required testing of a completely redesigned battery system.  Conducted with FAA officials on board, the tests seem to have convinced regulators that the lithium-ion batteries are now safe, having been placed in a metal container with enhancements that monitor their activities more closely, prevent fires, and remove smoke or fumes from the aircraft should they occur.

Boeing and its customers will now begin the process of retrofitting the systems onto the 50 airlines that were in service on January 16.  Boeing began to deploy engineers to customer locations earlier this month so they would be ready to begin the work the moment the green light was given.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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