The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it has approved Boeing’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system and will allow two Dreamliner planes to begin test flights with the revamped protections against overheating batteries and damaging fires.
“We are confident the plan we approved today includes all the right elements to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery system redesign,” FAA chief Michael Huerta said. “Today’s announcement starts a testing process which will demonstrate whether the proposed fix will work as designed.”
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said regulators “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.”
As earlier unofficial reports indicated, Boeing’s proposed improvements 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,” according to the FAA.
The agency said its certification plan requires a series of tests that must be passed before the 787 could return to service, with specific pass/fail criteria and testing methodology. FAA engineers will be present for the testing and will be closely involved in all aspects of the process, the agency said.