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FAA warns it won't rush to approve proposed Boeing 787 fix

February 22, 2013|By Dominic Gates

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it received a formal proposal from Boeing Co. to fix the 787 Dreamliner's battery problems and "will analyze it closely."

But the agency indicated that it won't rush to get the Dreamliners back in the air despite the problems that the grounding of the planes have brought to Boeing and its customers.

"The safety of the flying public is our top priority, and we won't allow the 787 to return to commercial service until we're confident that any proposed solution has addressed the battery failure risks," an FAA statement said.

The Dreamliners have been grounded since mid-January after two battery failures caused a battery fire in a jet on the ground in Boston and then a smoldering battery on a flight in Japan.

A Boeing team led by commercial airplanes chief Ray Conner presented the proposal in Washington, D.C., on Friday to FAA head Michael Huerta, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari and other FAA officials.

Boeing issued a short statement saying the two sides had "a productive meeting," providing no details.

Boeing's proposed fix, according to multiple sources, includes:

•A stronger, sealed containment box around each battery;

•A system of venting tubes that in case of an incident would channel any flammable vapors or liquids out of the airplane;

•Continuous monitoring of temperature and voltage of individual cells within the battery;

•Better thermal separation of the cells, with some barrier such as high-temperature glass inserted between them.

Gates writes for the Seattle Times/McClatchy.

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