WASHINGTON, April 4 Boeing Co may carry
out a certification test flight of its grounded 787 Dreamliner
with a revamped battery system on Friday, a key step toward
returning the state-of-the-art aircraft to flight, a U.S.
government official said on Thursday.
The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record,
said the certification test could be carried out on Friday if
all remaining ground-based tests were completed on Thursday.
"They're not quite there yet," said the official, adding
that it might not be clear until early Friday if the
certification flight could take place.
Boeing declined to confirm the timing of the flight. "As a
matter of long-standing policy Boeing does not provide advance
notice of flight test activities until we have filed flight test
plans," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel told Reuters when asked
about a possible test flight on Friday. Boeing typically files a
flight plan a few hours before the plane takes off.
All 50 787s in service worldwide were grounded in January
after the airplane's lithium-ion batteries overheated on two
separate aircraft, one on the ground in Boston and a second
during a flight in Japan.
The certification 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 Boad is
investigating. But Boeing came up with measures it says make the
battery safe. It 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 will review the test data and decide whether to
certify the fix and return the plane to service.
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.