ATLANTA, March 20, 2013 – Airlines could soon return Boeing 787 aircraft to commercial service, possibly within a matter of weeks, according to various published reports.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week said it approved Boeing’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system. The 787 aircraft have been grounded since January as Boeing works to resolve an issue with the aircraft’s batteries.
According to the FAA, battery system improvements will 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.” Boeing will “conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions,” the FAA said in a announcement.
“As soon as our testing is complete and we obtain regulatory approvals, we will be positioned to help our customers implement these changes and begin the process of getting their 787s back in the air,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a statement. “Passengers can be assured that we have completed a thorough review of the battery system and made numerous improvements that we believe will make it a safer, more reliable battery system.”
According to a Reuters report, Boeing expects the 787 aircraft to be back in service in a matter of weeks. United Airlines is the only domestic carrier that operates the 787. The Chicago-based airline operates six of the aircraft.
“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood 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.”
Despite the battery problems, company and government officials have said all along they believe the plane is safe. Last month, as part of an ongoing investigation, federal authorities said Boeing could conduct test flights of the 787 aircraft to gather additional data.
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