Boeing to meet with FAA tomorrow to explain 787 fixes

Posted on 21 Feb 2013 by Tim Brown

A top Boeing executive will meet with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday to propose fixes for the battery problems that have grounded its innovative 787 jets since mid-January.

The 787 is the first commercial airplane to use large lithium-ion batteries for major flight functions.

Boeing said it is confident that it has earmarked the risks to the lithium-ion batteries and identified a small number of changes which it hopes will mean the battery is ruled safe to use.

The FAA’s top official, Michael Huerta, is not expected to approve the changes Friday when he is scheduled to meet with Ray Conner, the president of Boeing’s commercial airplane division. But according to The Denver Post, the meeting could start a high-level discussion and provide Boeing with early guidance on the mix of changes that would be needed to get the planes back in the air.

On Thursday, 6 February, US Federal reguators approved one flight of a Boeing 787, with a flight crew but no passengers, to allow the company’s engineers to study possible changes to the plane’s electrical systems that could reduce the risk of another battery fire.

Boeing engineers are working on a range of possible technical overhauls. These include making the battery cells more resistant to shocks to keep excess heat from spreading from one cell to another, causing the kind of thermal runaway that occurred in the two recent events. Boeing officials have said they are also working on building more solid containment cases and better venting mechanisms in the event of overheating.