U.S. FAA review says Boeing 787 Dreamliner is safe

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:06pm EDT

A 787 Dreamliner being built for India Air is pictured at South Carolina Boeing final assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Randall Hill

A 787 Dreamliner being built for India Air is pictured at South Carolina Boeing final assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina December 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Randall Hill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which was grounded for more than three months last year after batteries overheated, is soundly designed and safe to fly, a joint review by the planemaker and the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday.

The review, which was initiated by the FAA after a battery fire aboard a 787 in Boston in January 2013, encompassed the entire plane, not specifically the battery issue.

It made seven recommendations for further improvements in Boeing processes and the agency's oversight, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a telephone news briefing.

The Boston fire and another battery incident in Japan several days later prompted regulators to ground the plane for 3-1/2 months last year. The plane has also suffered a series of mishaps with brakes, fuel lines, electrical panels, hydraulics, and other systems.

Boeing redesigned the battery, charger and containment system to ensure battery fires would not put the plane at risk, and the Dreamliner was returned to service. The cause of the battery problems has not been determined and is the subject of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

A battery aboard a Japan Airlines Dreamliner emitted white smoke and showed signs of melting in an incident two months ago at a Tokyo airport.

The Dreamliner, launched in 2004, is built with carbon-fiber composite materials and a powerful electrical system to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Sandra Maler)

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