Around 50% of the primary structure of the B787 Dreamliner (including the fuselage and wing) is made of composite materials. (Picture © Boeing.)
Around 50% of the primary structure of the B787 Dreamliner (including the fuselage and wing) is made of composite materials. (Picture © Boeing.)

787 Dreamliners in service with US airlines were grounded following incidents with their batteries in January (see The Boeing 787 and its battery problems.)

FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane.
Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney

The FAA's action will permit the return to service of 787s in the USA upon installation of the improvements. For 787s based and modified outside the USA, local regulatory authorities provide the final approval on return to service.

Approval of the improved 787 battery system was granted by the FAA after the agency conducted an extensive review of certification tests. The tests were designed to validate that individual components of the battery, as well as its integration with the charging system and a new enclosure, all performed as expected during normal operation and under failure conditions.

Testing was conducted under the supervision of the FAA over a month-long period beginning in early March.

Battery modification plan

The improved battery system includes design changes to both prevent and isolate a fault should it occur. In addition, improved production, operating and testing processes have been implemented. A new steel enclosure system is designed to keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the aircraft or even being noticed by passengers.

Boeing has deployed teams to locations around the world to begin installing improved battery systems on 787s. Kits with the parts needed for the new battery systems are staged for shipment and new batteries also will be shipped immediately. Teams have been assigned to customer locations to install the new systems.

Aircraft will be modified in approximately the order they were delivered.

Boeing will also begin installing the changes on new aircraft at the company's two 787 final-assembly plants, with deliveries expected to resume in the weeks ahead.

Boeing says that despite the disruption in deliveries that began in January, it expects to complete all planned 2013 deliveries by the end of the year. 
 

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