announced its official approval of the redesigned Boeing
787 lithium-ion battery system on Friday, moving a step closer to returning the aircraft to commercial service.
The agency grounded all in-service 787s in January, following separate incidents where the battery overheated on commercial flights operated by Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL). In March, Boeing
's certification plan for the redesigned system was approved, and on Friday FAA
approved the new system after weeks of extensive testing.
“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The new battery system features a steel enclosure designed to prevent any level of battery overheating from erupting in fire and affecting passengers or aircraft systems. In a statement Boeing said its engineering team spent more than 100,000 hours building test rigs, conducting tests and analyzing results. The company is sending teams to 787 operators worldwide to assist with installing the new battery systems.
"The ultimate layer of protection is the new enclosure, which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire.
We have the right solution in hand, and we are ready to go," said Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
FAA will publish the final airworthiness directive next week allowing the 787 to return to commercial service with the battery system changes. Airlines operating the 787 will be required to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and chargers with modified components.
Additionally, the agency will monitor all modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. registry, with teams of inspectors at modification locations. All modified 787s must be approved by the agency before returning to service.