Boeing could put its 787s back into the skies within weeks following approval from US authorities to test modifications to faulty batteries.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has granted permission for Boeing to modify the lithium batteries which have resulted in a series of fires on the Dreamliner. The batteries, which are located under the cabin floor, provide the aircraft’s power on the ground, but also have a critical role in-flight should any system fail.
Ray Conner, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the changes should provide a permanent fix.
"Working with internal and external experts in battery technology, we have proposed a comprehensive set of solutions designed to significantly minimize the potential for battery failure while ensuring that no battery event affects the continued safe operation of the airplane," he said.
Conner said manufacturers had diagnosed the problem and improved design to isolate any faults that reoccurred. Batteries would be isolated to prevent any problems “being noticed by passengers”, he said.
The new design will be tested on two aircraft. The 787 has been grounded since early January and one, owned by Qatar Airways, has been parked at Heathrow since then.