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While the 787 has had many milestones, the one today is something we’ve all been waiting for. With Captain Heather Ross at the controls, 787 Line Number 86 for LOT Polish Airlines completed the final certification test for our new battery system with a 1 hour and 49 minute flight out of Paine Field.
The crew tells us the certification demonstration plan was straightforward and the flight was uneventful. The purpose of the test was to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as we intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Boeing's improved 787 Dreamliner battery design, clearing the way for the twinjet to return to commercial service more than three months after it was grounded.
The agency says today it will issue instructions next week to 787 operators for installing the modified battery design on their aircraft. It will publish in the Federal Register the final directive to allow the twinjet to return to service, which 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 says.
The Boeing 787 grounding could be lifted with 100 days of the US Federal Aviation Administration's order on 16 January, or within a week.
The US FAA approved on 19 April Boeing's solution to the thermal and electrical failures that caused lithium-ion batteries on two 787s to dangerously overheat. Boeing was preparing to release a service bulletin a few hours later that authorised airlines to install an improved battery. Installation kits pre-positioned in bonded Boeing storage facilities around the world could now be released to the 50 787s currently parked in nine different countries.
The next step in the process requires the FAA to issue a new airworthiness directive (AD) to supersede the order that grounded the 787s until the battery problem was resolved to the agency's satisfaction.
That step will be followed by a short waiting period to allow the public to submit comments. Boeing officials, however, believe the comment period on the superseding AD could be closed out within the five-day window it takes to install the battery kits, allowing the 787's to resume passenger-carrying flights almost immediately.