Boeing completes half of 787 tests for battery fix

Posted on 4 Apr 2013 by Tim Brown

Boeing has announced that it is more than half way through testing its solution to the battery fault which has grounded all 787 Dreamliners since January.

The test results so far have been in line with the tests Boeing carried out when they were developing the fix, spokesman Marc Birtel said on Wednesday. The remaining  ground and flight tests will be taking place in the coming days.

Smoldering batteries — including one fire on the ground — prompted air safety authorities to ground the entire 787 fleet in mid-January.

Boeing has developed what it believes is a permanent fix to the battery issue by including more heat insulation and a system for venting battery gases outside of the plane.

The tests under way now are aimed at demonstrating that Boeing’s solution has worked but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will have to certify the changes before the planes are able to carry commercial passengers again.

Ground testing is continuing at Boeing labs in Seattle with the company giving results of their tests to the FAA as they complete them.

The testing is taking longer than Boeing had expected when they announced the fix for the 787’s smoldering batteries on March 15.

“We are all working toward returning the 787 fleet to service in the most expeditious manner possible, but we are being thorough and won’t short cut the testing and certification process,” Mr Birtel said in a written statement.

A demonstration flight for the battery fix “will take place in the coming days,” Boeing said.

Boeing also reported that a 787 test flight on Wednesday was unrelated to testing its battery fix. The flight was a “routine test flight designed to address some of the component reliability projects” it has been working on, the company said.

Meanwhile new orders for the 787 have slowed dramatically since the plane was grounded. According to though, International Airlines Group said it would convert options for 18 787s into firm orders for its British Airways unit, according to a securities filing in Spain. The planes will replace 747-400s starting in 2017.

The only other 787 order Boeing has booked this year is for 42 planes from American Airlines.