While there have been lots of rumors and snippets over the past few weeks, there’s actual progress today in the return of the 787 to flight. No, it’s not returning to flight yet, but the FAA has approved Boeing’s plan to certify the new battery system.
Quoting from the press release:
“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”
The battery system 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.
The FAA only approved flights on two test aircraft, so I suspect it will still be a bit of time before the 787 is certified to fly again. After that Boeing will need to install the fix on planes, which will also take time. And, somewhere in between, Ray LaHood, who’s spent plenty of time bloviating about how he’s never going to let the plane fly until it’s proven to be 1000% safe, will need to be comfortable with the fix. All they’re really approving now are the parameters by which the fix will be tested. It’s been just about 2 months since the plane was initially grounded. I’ve heard people in the know say it wouldn’t fly again this year, and others say it would fly again before May.
I’m guessing somewhere in between.
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