SEATTLE Feb 26 The Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) said it is not close to approving test
flights of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner with a proposed fix for the
plane's troubled batteries, denying news reports that such tests
could start as early as next week.
"Reports that we are close to allowing 787 test flights are
completely inaccurate," spokeswoman Laura Brown said on Tuesday
in an email to Reuters. Boeing declined to comment.
Batteries overheated on two jets last month, prompting
regulators to ground the 50 Dreamliners in service worldwide.
The grounding saddled Boeing Co with mounting costs and
airlines with expensive planes that cannot be flown and in some
cases are stranded far from their home airports.
Boeing proposed a multi-faceted fix for the battery system
in a meeting with the FAA last week. The proposal included a
stronger containment box, a battery with greater cooling
capacity and other changes.
The proposed fix came before the cause of the burnt
batteries is known. The National Transportation Safety Board is
still investigating what caused one of the batteries to catch
fire on a plane on the ground in Boston. A second smoldered on a
flight in Japan, prompting an emergency landing and evacuation.
The Japan Transportation Safety Board is investigating that
incident. Boeing has recently dispatched a new group of experts
to Japan to work with battery maker GS Yuasa Corp on
fixes to the battery, according to a person briefed on the
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported
that Boeing initially asked the FAA for flight tests to begin on
Friday and told customers that if testing began in early March,
the 787 might be allowed to resume operations with passengers by
the end of the month.
But the FAA appears to have a different timetable.
In a notice issued last Friday, the agency alerted airlines
operating the 787-8, the current production model, that they
have until April 8 to submit comments on the decision to ground
the aircraft because of unsafe conditions caused by the battery
system. The agency said that in grounding the 787 on Jan. 16,
due to safety concerns after the two battery incidents, it did
not provide time for public comment.