Boeing 787 makes test flight to check battery

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Updated: March 25, 2013, 5:31 PM

 

SEATTLE — A Boeing 787 with a redesigned battery system made a 2-hour test flight on Monday, and the company said the event “went according to plan.”

The test flight was an important step in Boeing’s plan to convince safety regulators to allow airlines to resume using the plane, which the company calls the Dreamliner.

Boeing will analyze information from the flight and prepare for another flight — using the same plane — to demonstrate the 787’s performance to the Federal Aviation Administration, said company spokesman Marc Birtel.

The 787 fleet has been grounded since January after lithium-ion batteries aboard two planes overheated. The battery on a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire after it landed in Boston and the battery on an All Nippon Airways jet began smoking during a flight in Japan, forcing an emergency landing.

Boeing added insulation around battery cells and a steel casing on the outside to prevent fires. Company officials have said that they might never know the cause of the smoldering batteries, but they hope to get the planes back in the air within weeks, not months.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Japanese authorities are investigating the incidents.

The NTSB plans to hold a forum next month in Washington on the use of lithium-ion batteries in transportation. The agency said Monday that the event April 11-12 will focus on design and performance of the batteries and regulation of their manufacturing and use.

For Monday’s test flight, Boeing used a 787 that it built for LOT Polish Airlines. The plane took off about an hour later than planned from Paine Field near Seattle, flew out over the Pacific and down the coast to Oregon before returning to the same airfield.

Boeing shares rose 3 cents to close at $84.85.