Boeing asks FAA to OK test flights

Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times /

SEATTLE — Boeing Co. said Monday that it has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to fly test flights of its 787 Dreamliner. The FAA said it is evaluating the request.

The FAA is likely to grant Boeing’s request as early as Monday evening and a 787 could fly again later this week, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The initial flight tests will gather data on the operation of the troubled lithium ion battery system, the cause of the worldwide fleet grounding that’s now into its third week.

Boeing also wants to test a potential fix, the sources said.

But 787 passenger flights won’t resume soon. In airline service, the Dreamliner is still likely to stay grounded for weeks, if not months, two sources said.

Even when Boeing arrives at a workable fix, its engineers will have to design, build and thoroughly test the solution.

The FAA ordered the grounding after two serious 787 battery incidents just over a week apart.