FAA Approves Boeing 787s to Fly, NTSB Hearing Still On

The investigative hearing into the Jan. 7 lithium-ion battery fire takes place in Washington, D.C. on April 23-24.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing's design for modifications to the battery system aboard its 787 Dreamliner aircraft, meaning the airplanes soon will be allowed to be flown. However, the National Transportation Safety Board announced on the same day that its two-day investigative hearing into the Jan. 7 fire involving one of the batteries will take place April 23-24 at its Washington, D.C. board room and conference center.

FAA said Boeing's changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level, and the aircraft level, and FAA will issue instructions this week to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish the final directive that will allow 787s to return to service with the modifications.

FAA indicated it will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries and also replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components. "Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said April 19.

The NTSB hearing will start at 9 a.m. both days. Its notice said representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, GS-Yuasa, and Thales will testify and answer questions from NTSB board members and technical staffers about the design, testing, certification, and operation of the lithium-ion battery on the 787 and about the fire. The hearing's agenda is available at http://go.usa.gov/TBye, and exhibits will be available at http://go.usa.gov/TW43 after the hearing begins.

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