Login

FAA approves test flights for Boeing's grounded 787 Dreamliner

787 dreamliner

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be returning to the air — but only so Boeing can gather information about the battery fires that led the Federal Aviation Administration to ground its new planes in January. In a statement, Boeing said the FAA has approved flights by one of the Dreamliners, something that will allow investigators to collect data about the plane's battery and electrical systems and hopefully lead to answers that could let Boeing fix the problem. As part of the approval, the crew must check for battery damage before the flight, monitor it while in the air, and take aboard only the most essential personnel in case problems do arise.

The 787 Dreamliner made its first US flight last year, but a pair of fires started by batteries have called its safety into question, and their causes are still unclear. In a meeting this morning, the NTSB said that preliminary reports on one plane indicate a single cell in the lithium-ion battery short-circuited, starting the fire. Investigators have ruled out external mechanical damage or an external short-circuit, but the failure remains a mystery: they're currently looking at whether it's possible wrinkles in the assembly or problems with how the eight cells were packaged together could have led to the short-circuit. While the FAA certification process for the 787 apparently involved testing whether a battery short-circuit could cascade through other cells and cause a fire, it clearly didn't catch the defect that showed up during January.

The fire has been tracked down to a single battery cell, but the cause is still unknown

The National Transportation Safety Board has said before that there's no deadline on getting the Dreamliners back in the sky for commercial flights, indicating that an investigation could take years to complete, but the FAA was already expected to allow these test flights. For now, we're seeing the first few steps towards at least figuring out what's gone wrong.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.