FAA clears Boeing battery fix, ending 787 flight ban

Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:17am EDT

A model of Boeing's 787 Battery Design Improvements is displayed in Tokyo March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A model of Boeing's 787 Battery Design Improvements is displayed in Tokyo March 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

(Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration gave formal approval on Thursday for a new lithium-ion battery system for Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner, ending a three-month ban and clearing airlines to fly the plane with passengers again.

The FAA's "airworthiness directive" technically applies just to United Airlines, which so far is the only U.S. carrier with the new high-tech jet, but it will set the standard that regulators in Japan, Europe and elsewhere will follow. Other U.S. carriers with 787s on order will eventually come under the new rule.

The FAA pegged the cost of repairing United's six jets at about $2.8 million.

The approval caps a tumultuous period for Boeing and its airline customers, beginning when two lithium-ion batteries overheated on two Dreamliners in separate incidents less than two weeks apart in January.

The two planes are owned by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, which together own nearly half the fleet of 50 Dreamliners delivered so far. The ban on flights effectively halted deliveries of new planes to customers.

Boeing devoted thousands of hours to developing a fix, even before investigators determined what caused the batteries to overheat, emit smoke and, in one instance, catch fire. That investigation continues, led by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which held hearings this week on the issue.

Last week, the FAA gave Boeing permission to begin installing the new battery system on planes. On Wednesday, the company said it expected to resume deliveries early next month and finish retrofitting the 50 customer planes by mid-May.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)

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Comments (6)
ThursdayAgain wrote:
A disaster waiting to happen. You can’t fix it if you don’t know why it broke.

Apr 25, 2013 10:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
“Boeing devoted thousands of hours to developing a fix, even before investigators determined what caused the batteries to overheat, emit smoke and, in one instance, catch fire.”

Oh and just what WAS that cause?

“That investigation continues, led by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board”

So if one of these Dreamliners crashes because they were allowed to return to the skies before they find out “What Caused” the batteries to overheat, emit smoke and, in one instance, catch fire, who takes the rap for it?

Apr 25, 2013 11:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
An NTSB spokesman is quoted as saying the test proceedures relied on to establish the adequacy of Boeing’s battery fixes “Could have been more conservative”. Nice vote of confidence from the folks who keep us safe.

Apr 25, 2013 12:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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