Boeing wraps up 787 Dreamliner battery testing

The aircraft maker says it has completed certification testing for a new battery system meant to replace the one at the center of an FAA investigation over fire-related incidents.

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A born browser of dictionaries and a lifelong New Englander, Jon Skillings is director of copy editing at CNET. He honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing tech publications back when the web was just getting under way. He writes occasionally, on topics from GPS to James Bond.
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Jon Skillings
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Boeing 787 flight test
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off on a demonstration flight marking the final certification test for its new battery system. Boeing

When it comes to aircraft in flight, "uneventful" is a good thing.

Boeing today said that it has completed certification testing for a new battery system for its 787 Dreamliner designed to replace the one at the center of a Federal Aviation Administration investigation over recent fire-related incidents. Those incidents prompted the FAA to order airlines to ground their Dreamliners until the batteries were proven safe to operate.

The certification testing wrapped up with a demonstration flight on "line number 86," a Boeing-owned production Dreamliner built for LOT Polish Airlines. Boeing said that the aircraft flew for 1 hour, 49 minutes today from an airfield in Everett, Wash., with a crew of 11 onboard, including two representatives from the FAA.

"The crew reported that the certification demonstration plan was straightforward and the flight was uneventful," Boeing said in a statement. "The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions."

Boeing did not elaborate, but said it would gather and analyze data from today's 787 flight and deliver all requisite materials to the FAA "in the coming days."

Last month, Boeing announced that it had developed additional safety features intended to prevent heat issues with the lithium-ion batteries located in the 787's auxiliary power unit. The company's plan, which was approved by the FAA, calls for the batteries to be wrapped in new thermal and electrical insulation materials and encased in a stainless steel enclosure. Other measures include narrowing the acceptable level of charge for the battery.

Worldwide, 50 of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners had entered commercial service before the grounding.

Boeing works to fireproof its 787 batteries (pictures)

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