The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Boeing’s improvements to the battery system on the 787 Dreamliner.
"FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane," said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. "The promise of the 787 and the benefits it provides to airlines and their passengers remain fully intact as we take this important step forward with our customers and program partners."
The FAA's action will permit the return to service of 787s in the United States upon installation of the improvements. For 787s based and modified outside the United States, local regulatory authorities provide the final approval on return to service.
Even before the FAA’s announcement, airlines had already begun preparing for the 787’s return to service. United Airlines had placed Dreamliners on the schedule starting May 31, and Ethiopian Airlines had told the Associated Press that it was readying the planes for service.
Boeing, in collaboration with its supplier partners and in support of the investigations of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Japan Transport Safety Board, conducted extensive engineering analysis and testing to develop a thorough understanding of the factors that could have caused the 787's batteries to fail and overheat in two incidents last January.
The improved battery system includes design changes to both prevent and isolate a fault should it occur. In addition, improved production, operating and testing processes have been implemented. The new steel enclosure system is designed to keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or even being noticed by passengers.