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Boeing completes test flight with redesigned battery on Boeing Dreamliner 787

Updated: March 25, 2013 5:11PM



A Boeing 787 completed a two-hour flight Monday to test whether a redesigned battery system would work properly while the plane was in the air.

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.

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 Co. spokesman Marc Birtel said the plane’s crew planned to test landing gear, electrical and backup systems, and “demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during flight conditions.”

Birtel said that once the flight was over, Boeing would analyze data from it and prepare for certification ground and flight demonstrations “in the coming days.”

Boeing declined to provide access to the plane or its facilities before or after the flight.

Boeing shares rose 3 cents to close at $84.85.



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