The FAA has approved flight testing for Boeing’s Dreamliner jet, it announced this afternoon.In a press release, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta laid out restrictions for the flights, including extensive pre-flight testing and inspections, and in-flight monitoring.
The flights will be over unpopulated areas, in defined airspace.
The 50 Dreamliner jets Boeing has delivered were grounded after the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner on January 16.
The directive, the first of its kind in decades, was prompted by a battery malfunction that forced an All Nippon Airways flight to make an emergency landing.
An ongoing review by the National Transportation Safety Board is examining the jet’s lithium-ion battery, believed to be the source of a fire in a parked Dreamliner in Boston on January 7.
The FAA will allow now Dreamliner test flights under a Special Airworthiness Certificate, with these requirements:
- Before flight, the crew must perform a number of inspections to verify that the batteries and cables show no signs of damage.
- Pre-flight checklist will include a mandatory check for specific status messages that could indicate possible battery problems.
- While airborne, the crew must continuously monitor the flight computer for battery related status messages, and land immediately if one occurs.
- Before the initial test flight, the crew must inspect the aeroplane’s smoke barriers and insulation to verify that they meet the approved design.
- Experimental research and development flights are flown with Boeing aircrews that include only personnel essential to the flight.
Boeing was allowed to conduct a 787 “ferry flight” this morning, to move a plane from Texas to Washington. That flight was not for testing purposes, but Boeing said via Twitter it monitored battery status throughout the flight.
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