WASHINGTON, April 5 Boeing Co has a "good
plan" to fix the battery problem that has grounded its 787
Dreamliner jets, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said
on Friday as the company prepared for a test flight to check the
battery system revamp.
LaHood said he wants to ensure the Dreamliner is safe before
allowing the planes back in the air, and no decision had been
made on commercial flights. Airlines that operate the plane
expect it could be flying again as early as April or May.
"They're doing the tests now, and we've agreed with the
tests that they're doing. And when they complete the tests,
they'll give us the information and we'll make a decision,"
LaHood said at the U.S. Export-Import Bank's annual conference
The statements came as Boeing scheduled a test flight for
later Friday to test a remodeled lithium-ion battery system
designed to prevent the overheating or fire that occurred on two
jets in January, prompting regulators to ban all 50 of the jets
in service from flying.
The test flight will gather data for the Federal Aviation
Administration to show the new battery system is safe and
performs as designed. The flight is part of a series of tests to
show whether measures Boeing has devised to fix the battery
problems work as intended. A preparation flight on March 25
"went according to plan," Boeing said.
It's still unknown what caused the two batteries to
overheat, and the National Transportation Safety Board is
investigating. Boeing came up with measures it says make the
battery safe. It put more insulation in the battery, encased the
battery in a steel box, changed the circuitry of the battery
charger and added a titanium venting tube to expel heat and
fumes outside the plane.
Once Boeing completes its testing, the Federal Aviation
Administration and other global regulators will review the test
data and decide whether to certify the fix and return the plane
Airlines have been barred from using the plane since it was
grounded in January, and Boeing has been barred from delivering
787s, though it continues to build the plane. The delay has been
costing the company an estimated $50 million a week.