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Boeing to begin modifying 787s as FAA approves battery improvements

22-Apr-2013 9:58 AM

Boeing stated (19-Apr-2013) the approval of battery system improvements for the 787 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clears the way for Boeing and its customers to install the approved modifications and will lead to a return to service and resumption of new production deliveries. Boeing chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney said: "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. 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 programme partners." The FAA's action will permit the return to service of 787s in the US upon installation of the improvements. For 787s based and modified outside the US, local regulatory authorities provide the final approval on return to service. Approval of the improved 787 battery system was granted by the FAA after the agency conducted an extensive review of certification tests with testing conducted under the supervision of the FAA over a month-long period beginning in early Mar-2013. 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 in Jan-2013. The team spent more than 100,000 hours developing test plans, building test rigs, conducting tests and analysing the results to ensure the proposed solutions met all requirements. Boeing also engaged a team of more than a dozen battery experts from across multiple industries, government, academia and consumer safety to review and validate the company's assumptions, findings, proposed solution and test plan.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. Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner noted: "This is a comprehensive and permanent solution with multiple layers of protection. The ultimate layer of protection is the new enclosure, which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire. We have the right solution in hand, and we are ready to go". [more - original PR]