Boeing, the US-based airplane manufacturer, is poised today for the news that its troubled aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, has been cleared to fly again.
If, as rumours are suggesting, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes the announcement that it is satisfied with improvements that have been made to the safety of the aircraft’s batteries, it will bring to an end the Dreamliner’s 3 months of enforced grounding.
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials at the FAA approve of new technical measures to solve the aircraft’s overheating battery problem, including a protective metal container to prevent fires and dispose of smoke and toxic fumes. Assuming that aviation officials in other countries follow the FAA’s lead, Dreamliners could resume their operational schedules as early as next month.
The only delays to the process are likely to be the time that it takes Boeing to issue a service bulletin to instruct affected airlines on how to update the battery systems, the time that it takes the airlines to carry out the work – estimated to be just a few days, and flight testing and refresher training for pilots.
Problems with the aircraft’s overheating lithium-ion batteries first emerged in January this year, after two Japanese airlines reported that one battery had melted and another had caught fire. There followed a worldwide grounding of the aircraft, and new deliveries from Boeing’s full order book for the popular plane were also brought to a halt. The three interceding months have seen frantic efforts to isolate the problem that have culminated in today’s expected announcement.