Boeing Completes Dreamliner Battery Tests

Boeing 787

Eleven weeks after the fleet of 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners was grounded due to lithium-ion battery malfunctions, the company announced it has completed tests on its proposed fix. FAA approval of the fix is expected, but could involve some more "back and forth" discussion. Even after the OK from the agency, it could still be up to two months before the fleet is cleared for service entry.

Boeing is prepping AOG (“aircraft on ground”) teams to replace batteries on the 50 grounded Dreamliners. The retrofit also includes a stainless steel containment vessel and a new venting system (to prevent battery overheating) that will involve drilling an access hole in the airframe for the titanium vent tube of each of three lithium-ion batteries for each jet.

Most of the testing was performed on the ground, and involved ensuring the improved containment structure would sustain the worst-case scenario. In addition, Boeing conducted a two-hour test flight that ensured the batteries performed as required under a variety of in-flight conditions, such as engine shutdowns and failed electrical and hydraulic components.

Japan Airlines and ANA are first in line for the retrofits, according to Boeing. Both must receive approval for the retrofit from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, which is expected shortly following FAA approval of the fix.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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