The FAA (the U.S. regulators) has approved the return of the grounded 787 Dreamliner to the air next week. The authority were clearly satisfied with Boeing’s fixes with US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood saying: “These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers“. The manufacturer is saying while it does not know what caused the fire, it’s fixes will deal with 80 possible causes.
“Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.”
It is unclear what Japanese regulators will do. They may accept the FAA decision or require additional information from Boeing or demand additions safeguards or require the manufacturer to undertake more test flights.
The F.A.A. approval which has been expected for the last few days, nonetheless came before the National Transportation Safety Board hearings next week on why the battery ignited on the Tarmac at Boston, USA back on January 7. The Board is also investigating to what extent any potential battery risks were underestimated. Officials from Boeing, Thales (battery system), GS-Yuasa (the battery manufacturer) and the FAA have been summoned to Washington.
The 50 jets owned by seven airlines will start flying in weeks.
Boeing has 300 technicians deployed in teams around the world to quickly install the modified batteries and other changes on these jets, a process that takes five days per plane. I listed the fixes in a post last month.
United will probably start May 31, as foreshadowed in my blog post last week from Houston to Denver.
ANA have also placed the 787 in their schedules from May 31.
Ethiopian and Qatar have said they want their 787s in the air as soon as possible.
The F.A.A.’s decision will allow Boeing to deliver many of the 34 completed 787s in Charleston and Everett, which airlines are waiting for.
Now let’s see how the passengers feel!
April 6: 787 in weeks???
March 30: Boeing calls for 787s to fly
March 23: 787 Testing
March 16: 787 Battery Fix?
March 8: No 787 for a long, long time
February 23: Where can you find a 787?
February 16: 787 situation gets more serious