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Boeing 787 Returns To The Skies With A Fix For Battery Issue

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the passenger jet that was grounded around the world after flaws in its battery compartment were found to pose a fire risk, is back in the skies. Airlines in Japan and Ethiopia report no problems after sending the 787 into the sky this weekend. The FAA approved a new design for the 787's lithium-ion battery system on April 19.

Ethiopian Airlines was the first carrier to return the 787 to service, using it for commercial flights Saturday, according to Reuters. On Sunday, Japan's All Nippon Airways conducted a test flight of the aircraft, with the company's president, Shinchiro Ito, on board along with a Boeing executive.

It was ANA that saw one of its 787s suffer from overheated batteries in January, prompting a global grounding. ANA owns 17 of the new Boeing jets, the most of any carrier. Problems also cropped up on a Japan Airlines flight.

As we reported Wednesday, Boeing plans to resume deliveries of the 787 in early May.

In clearing the Dreamliner for duty, the FAA said it will "require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components."

While both ANA and Japan Airlines plan to conduct more tests of the 787 before using it to carry passengers, Ethiopian Airlines returned the plane to service Saturday, in a move that caught at least one traveler by surprise.

"I wasn't aware that I was going to be on the 787 Dreamliner until on my way to the airport. It was a good service and the flight was pleasant," Ethiopian restaurateur Senait Mekonnen told Reuters, after the plane landed in Nairobi, Kenya.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

Comments

Avatar for user 'PlayFair3'

PlayFair3 | April 29, 2013 at 4:04 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Let's hope that 787 battery fix is a good one. The FAA furloughed all of their Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) who, on the behalf of the American traveling public, are the professionals that are (were?) supposed to make sure it works and keeps working during actual passenger operations – not just on some workbench. Honestly, you can't script this stuff. Just like control towers and controllers each of these inspectors is in place because risks have been identified to exist without them. ASIs perform 750,000 safety inspections each year. Furloughs now have the potential to reduce that number by more than 35,000 safety inspections in just the next 5 months. Think about that the next time you’re driving to the airport.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 29, 2013 at 10:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Forget driving, think about that next time you are flying!

Too bad they didn't cut back on unemployment benefits instead of this, but that would make too much sense and cause less public fear, and would directly affect the voting base of the left.

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