Following a series of incidents with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in January (see here) that resulted in the aircraft being grounded worldwide, the manufacturer has proposed a redesign of its lithium-ion battery, which has been identified as the root cause of the problem, to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The test schedule was given the go-ahead yesterday, signifying the first step in getting the troubled aircraft back in operation.
Design improvements to the battery include the addition of new thermal and electrical insulation materials which form an enclosure around the unit – ensuring that a fire cannot develop therein. Boeing also promises more stringent screening of battery cells prior to assembly. The system's voltage range will also be tightened.
This new certification plan proposal was submitted to the FAA in late February and was given the green light yesterday, and Boeing was also given the permission to begin flight test activities on two aircraft.
"Our team has been working around the clock to understand the issues and develop a solution based on extensive analysis and testing following the events that occurred in January. Today's approval from the FAA is a critical and welcome milestone toward getting the fleet flying again and continuing to deliver on the promise of the 787," said Boeing chairman, president and chief executive Jim McNerney.
Additional details of the new design will be provided by Boeing in the days ahead.