FAA closer to restoring Dreamliner service
April 18, 2013, Washington, D.C. - U.S. aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is one step closer to giving its approval to a key document, called Project Statement of Compliance, which would possibly allow Boeing 787 Dreamliners to fly within a few weeks.
The approval for the document is considered a major step, as it would initiate a series of procedural steps allowing airlines to fly the jet again, reports Reuters.
FAA grounded all 50 787s in-service worldwide on January16 following a battery fire on a 787 that landed in Boston's Logan International Airport and another case of an overheated battery, which prompted Japan's All Nippon Airways' jetliner to make an emergency landing.
In addition to battery problems, the 787 has been plagued by several other safety incidents this year, including a crack in the window of a cockpit, an oil leak from a generator inside an engine, a brake problem, and fuel spillage, which led to a comprehensive review order by FAA.
The grounding of Dreamliners has cost the aeroplane manufacturer an estimated $600 million, and many airlines are planning to seek compensation, which could add to Boeing's costs.
Early this month, Boeing completed a 787 certification demonstration flight on line number 86, a production aircraft built for LOT Polish Airlines.
The demonstration flight marked the final certification test for the new battery system and completed testing requirements of the FAA.
However, sources also said that additional steps may be taken to get the approval, which would mean resuming the Dreamliners into service could be delayed further.
Next week, the U.S. safety regulator National Transportation Safety Board will hold a two-day hearing into the batteries issue.
On Tuesday, FAA chief Michael Huerta told a congressional panel that the agency is looking into tests and analysis submitted by Boeing and will approve them only if the redesigned batteries meet FAA requirements.
If the key document is approved, Boeing will have to draft a service bulletin, informing its clients to retrofit the new batteries on the delivered aircraft.
However, FAA will have to give its approval to the design change and the bulletin, and then finally issue an Airworthiness Directive, which will indicate the ban has been lifted.
Sources told Reuters that Boeing has already kept its teams and battery kits ready to retrofit the planes and they would begin in Japan.