FAA approves resumption of Boeing 787 flights

Federal officials approve fix for aircraft's problematic lithium-ion batteries and will lift 3-month-old grounding order for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner flights.
By JOAN LOWY and JOSHUA FREED Published: April 20, 2013
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— Boeing's beleaguered 787 could be flying again within a week after federal officials approved a fix for its batteries, even though the root cause of a fire on one plane and smoke on another still isn't known.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it would send airlines instructions and publish a notice next week lifting the 3-month-old grounding order that day. Airlines will be able to begin flying the planes again as soon as the new systems are installed and they have approval from safety regulators in their own countries. Dreamliner flights could resume within a week, the agency told members of Congress.

Boeing is eager to get the planes flying. It has stationed 300 workers on 10 teams around the world to do the work, some of it beginning on Friday, 787 chief engineer Mike Sinnett said on a call with reporters. It will take about five days to install the revamped lithium-ion battery system on each plane, he said.

Battery system tested

The FAA gave Boeing permission last month to test the revamped system, which includes additional insulation around each of the battery's eight cells to prevent a short circuit or fire in one of the cells from spreading to the others. The new system also includes enhanced venting of smoke and gas from inside the battery to outside the plane. A strengthened box to hold the battery is an effort to ensure that if a fire were to occur, it wouldn't escape to the rest of the plane.



Also ...

Boeing slows making 747-8

— Boeing said it will slow down production of its superjumbo 747-8 because of weak demand.

Boeing builds two of the planes every month. It's slowing that rate to one and three-quarters per month.

Boeing had warned that a slowdown was possible if demand didn't improve. Boeing has orders for 64 of the planes still to be built, including freighter and passenger versions.

Boeing first delivered the revamped 747-8 in 2011. The freighter version received the most orders. But the size of the passenger version is midway between the larger Airbus A380, which has been on the market longer, and the smaller Boeing 777, which is popular with airlines.

Associated Press

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