Boeing Completes Final Dreamliner Test Flight, Looks to Resume Service by June
Boeing said that it had completed the required testing of the Dreamliner’s redesigned battery system Friday. The airframe maker said it will deliver the results of Friday’s flight and other recent ground and laboratory testing to the FAA “in the coming days.”
The entire fleet of Boeing Dreamliners was grounded on January 16, after two fires related to the plane’s lithium-ion batteries. The tests on Friday allow Boeing to move towards a final review of the new design that will allow the aircraft to return to commercial service. The flight today, using a Dreamliner built for LOT Polish Airlines, departed from Paine Field in Everett, Washington at 10:30 a.m. local time and returned at 12:28 p.m.
In addition to nine Boeing staff, two representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration were on the nearly two-hour test flight that the company termed “uneventful.”
Boeing reported afterwards that the flight crew stated that the certification demonstration plan was “straightforward.” The purpose of the test flight was to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions. All of the testing methodology as well as specific criteria for passing were agreed upon in advance by the FAA, which also supervised the test flights.
Boeing hopes to get approval from regulators in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere for the new battery design by the middle of April and will then work with the eight airlines that already have Dreamliners in their fleet, including ANA, Japan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, United Airlines, and Qatar Airways, to retrofit the new system. If all goes well, the Dreamliner could return to commercial service by late May or early June.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)