FAA approves Boeing plan to fix 787's batteries

Mar 12, 2013

Federal regulators have approved a Boeing plan to redesign the 787 Dreamliner's fire-prone lithium-ion batteries, although extensive testing will be needed before the planes can fly passengers again.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday the plan includes a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize the possibility of short-circuiting, better insulation of the battery's eight cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system.

The FAA says the battery certification plan requires a series of tests, including flight tests, which must be passed before the 787 can return to service.

Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton says the FAA approval is a good first step – one that Boeing really needs.

"Every day that the airplanes are on the ground is a blow to the brand," Hamilton said. "Every day the airplanes are on the ground presumably racks up more compensation that Boeing’s going to have to pay to its customers."

Hamilton says the Dreamliners could be back in the air in May or June if the battery system passes muster.

The 787 fleet worldwide has been grounded since Jan. 16, following a battery fire on a Dreamliner parked in Boston and a smoking battery that led to emergency landing by other another 787 in Japan.