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FAA approves Boeing’s plan to fix Dreamliner batteries

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 4:11 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 6:02 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing’s certification plan to fix the battery system on its 787 Dreamliner, the first step to getting the grounded 787s back in the air.

The FAA has reviewed Boeing’s proposed modifications and its plan to demonstrate that the system will meet FAA requirements, the agency said Tuesday.

The plan requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with safety regulations and special conditions, it said.

The FAA grounded all Boeing 787s in January following a battery fire in a Japan Airlines plane and a smoking battery on an All Nippon Airways jet that forced an emergency landing.

“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” Ray LaHood, transportation secretary, said in a statement. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

Improvements to the battery include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system, the FAA said.

A series of tests must be passed before the 787 can return to service. The plan establishes pass/fail criteria, defines the parameters of what will be measured, prescribes test methodology and specifies the test setup and design, the FAA said.

FAA engineers will be present for the testing and will be involved in the process.

The agency has also approved limited test flights for two Dreamliners, which will have the prototype versions of the new containment system installed in them. The flights are to validate the aircraft instrumentation for the battery, battery enclosure testing and product improvements for other systems.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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