CORRECTED-Too soon to say if 787 battery issues were design error -Boeing

Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:16pm EDT

(Corrects spelling of Boeing executive's name to Sinnett from Sinnette in 2nd paragraph)

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - A top Boeing Co executive said on Tuesday it was too early to determine whether problems with the lithium ion batteries on its new 787 Dreamliner that led to the plane's grounding in January stemmed from a design error or some manufacturing problem.

Mike Sinnett, Boeing's chief 787 engineer, told an investigative hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board that the batteries had been through thousands of hours of testing before the new airliner began flying, plus additional hours during flight testing.

He said the batteries were part of a layered system that sought to avert a safety problem on board the airplane. He said there was no evidence that the batteries involved in two issues in Japan had been subjected to any abuse. (Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Grant McCool)

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