Dreamliner takes final test flight for battery fix

The LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner used for the test touches down.
The LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner used for the test touches down. Photo: AFP

US aerospace giant Boeing conducted a final 787 Dreamliner test flight on Friday to assess the proposed battery fix that it hopes will get the grounded jetliner back in the skies.

"The purpose of the test is to demonstrate that the new system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions," said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel.

Boeing said the airplane took off and landed at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, home to the company's largest plane-building factory.

The Boeing-owned airplane, built for LOT Polish Airlines, departed at 10:39 am local time with a crew of 11 onboard, including two representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The crew reported that the nearly two-hour flight was "uneventful" and the demonstration plan to reclaim flight certification was "straightforward," Birtel said.

Boeing expected to gather and analyze the data and submit the required materials to the FAA "in the coming days," the spokesman said.

"Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations."

Boeing conducted a similar 787 test flight on March 25.

All of the 50 Boeing 787 planes in service were grounded globally in mid-January after a series of overheating problems with the cutting-edge plane's lithium-ion battery system.

The action came after a battery fire on a parked Japan Airlines 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport and an incident in which battery smoke forced an emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 in Japan.

US government investigators have said they still cannot yet explain what caused a potentially catastrophic battery fire aboard the parked JAL 787.

On March 12, the FAA approved Boeing's plan for testing the batteries, saying it marked the "first step in the process to evaluate the 787's return to flight."

The FAA and the US National Transportation Safety Board are working with Japanese authorities in the probe of the overheated battery on the ANA 787.

The NTSB investigates civil aviation accidents; the FAA is responsible for deciding whether the 787 can return to service.

Shortly after the 787 was grounded on January 16, Boeing halted deliveries of the plane but continues to produce it at a rate of five per month.

AFP

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