FAA approves Boeing's new Dreamliner battery changes

With the new approved plans, airlines could have the 787 Dreamliners up and running within weeks.

Boeing 787 battery flight test
A Boeing-owned 787 airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines departs Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on March 25, 2012, for a "functional check flight." Boeing

After weeks of testing, the Federal Aviation Administration announced on Friday that it has approved Boeing's plans to fix batteries on its 787 Dreamliner airplanes.

The FAA said it will start instructing operators next week about the changes that will keep the batteries from catching on fire. This will allow airlines to get the planes up and running again.

"A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a press release. FAA inspectors will monitor the changes.

Boeing said it has already deployed teams to start installing the new battery system, which includes a new charging system and a new enclosure, in existing planes around the world. Boeing is also installing the changes on new planes at the company's two plants so that it can deliver on un-filled orders for the 787s by the end of this year.

The planes were grounded in January after employees discovered a battery fire while cleaning the plane. The FAA ordered airlines to ground their fleets of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners until the plane's onboard batteries were proven safe to operate.

Confirmation of the approval comes shortly after the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the FAA was expected to announce their decision as early as Friday.

Updated, 1:02 p.m. PT: Updated with more information from Boeing and the FAA.

 

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