13-Mar-2013 10:05 AM

US Federal Aviation Administration approves 787 certification plan

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved (12-Mar-2013) the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company's certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system, after thoroughly reviewing Boeing’s proposed modifications and the company’s plan to demonstrate the system will meet FAA requirements. The certification plan is the first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight and requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said: “This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed. 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.” FAA Administrator Michael P Huerta said: “We are confident the plan we approved today includes all the right elements to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery system redesign. Today’s announcement starts a testing process which will demonstrate whether the proposed fix will work as designed.” Details include:

  • Details of plan: The battery system improvements include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimise initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system;
  • Certification plan requirements: The certification plan requires a series of tests which must be passed before the 787 could return to service. The plan establishes specific pass/fail criteria, defines the parameters that should be measured, prescribes the test methodology and specifies the test setup and design. FAA engineers will be present for the testing and will be closely involved in all aspects of the process;
  • Test flights: The FAA also has approved limited test flights for two aircraft. These aircraft will have the prototype versions of the new containment system installed. The purpose of the flight tests will be to validate the aircraft instrumentation for the battery and battery enclosure testing in addition to product improvements for other systems;
  • Redesign approvals: The FAA will approve the redesign only if the company successfully completes all required tests and analysis to demonstrate the new design complies with FAA requirements. The FAA’s 16-Jan-2013 airworthiness directive, which required operators to temporarily cease 787 operations, is still in effect, and the FAA is continuing its comprehensive review of the 787 design, production and manufacturing process. [more - original PR]

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