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787 Battery Problem: Boeing Moves Forward With Testing…

The 787 battery problem is entering in a new phase of investigation, after the FAA gave its approval to Boeing’s plan for testing the improvements on the aircraft’s battery system:

Boeing Receives FAA Approval of Certification Plan for 787 Battery Solution – PR Newswire (press release)

Boeing has received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the company’s plan to test and certify improvements to the 787′s battery system. Successful completion of each step within the plan will result in the FAA’s approval to resume commercial 787 flights. ”Our top priority is the integrity of our products and the safety of the passengers and crews who fly on them,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. “Our team has been working around the clock to understand the issues and develop a solution based on extensive analysis and testing following the events that occurred in January. Today’s approval from the FAA is a critical and welcome milestone toward getting the fleet flying again and continuing to deliver on the promise of the 787,” he said.   Ray Conner, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said that the company’s focus has been on developing a permanent resolution. ”Working with internal and external experts in battery technology, we have proposed a comprehensive set of solutions designed to significantly minimize the potential for battery failure while ensuring that no battery event affects the continued safe operation of the airplane,” said Conner.

787 Battery Problem 1

The test flights will be limited to two aircraft, as the 787 Dreamliner fleet is still grounded globally:

Boeing gets OK to test new 787 battery, wins big 737 order – Reuters UK

Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it approved Boeing’s battery certification plan and will permit two aircraft limited flights to test the new design. Regulators grounded the 50 Dreamliners in use by airlines on January 16 after lithium-ion batteries burned aboard two planes, banning airlines from flying the 787 and stopping Boeing from delivering them. Although its factories continue to make the 787, Boeing is losing an estimated $50 million a week while the planes are grounded. ”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,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. Boeing’s new battery – which it presented to the FAA in late February – is designed to minimize the chances of a short circuit, insulates the cells within the battery better and adds a new containment and venting system to prevent damage even if the battery catches fire. The FAA said the new design must pass a series of tests before it is approved and that the agency will be “closely involved” in the certification process. The FAA has been criticized for delegating too much responsibility to manufacturers in certifying equipment.

On the other hand the NTSB is still investigating a lithium-ion battery fire that occurred on board a Dreamliner aircraft in Boston:

NTSB: No root cause found in Boeing Dreamliner 787 battery fire – Chicago Sun-Times

A lithium-ion battery fire that occurred onboard a Boeing Dreamliner 787 airplane in Boston, contributing to the grounding of the full fleet of planes in January, was not easy to put out, taking an hour and 40 minutes before the event was described as “controlled.” That’s according to an interim report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board right before the agency announced it will hold a hearing and forum in mid-April to provide additional information to advance its investigation of the fire.  The board is still looking for the cause of the fire, which occurred onboard a Japan Airlines 787 while it was on the ground. The NTSB interim factual report said that during the fire, aircraft rescue and fire fighting personnel repeatedly applied Halotran, a fire extinguishing agent to put it out. A fire captain said the battery was emitting white smoke, creating heavy smoke conditions and the battery was hissing loudly. The fire captain said he received a burn on his neck when the battery in his words “exploded.” Because of the heavy smoke firefighters had to use a thermal imaging camera.

More importantly the FAA wants extensive testing for solving the 787 battery problem:

787 faces extensive tests to return to air, FAA chief says – The Seattle Times

Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta said (Feb. 27) that Boeing won’t get its 787 Dreamliners back into passenger service without extensive testing and re-certification of its proposed fix for the jet’s lithium-ion battery problem. In testimony before a congressional subcommittee, Huerta said he expects a report from his technical staff next week that will offer an assessment of the fix Boeing formally proposed last Friday. But he said FAA approval for Boeing to develop its fix will only be the start. “Once we approve the plan, then we have to go through the process of actually implementing the plan, which will involve a great deal of testing, a great deal of further analysis and re-engineering before these planes are back in the air,” Huerta said. He did not cite any potential time frame, but the requirement for extensive testing, analysis and re-engineering suggests at least weeks of work after Boeing gets the green light to proceed.

Finally, as Boeing is losing an estimated $50 million a week as its 787 Dreamliner airplanes remain grounded, it wants from FAA a approve a solution for the 787 battery problem, the soonest possible.



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