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Boeing says installation work on new 787 battery system is complete

May 29, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan
  • Final assembly facility for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Wash.
Final assembly facility for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in Everett,… (Gail Hanusa / Boeing Co. )

Aerospace giant Boeing Co. has finished replacing the problem-plagued lithium-ion battery systems in its new 787 Dreamliner jets after overheating incidents grounded the planes for more than three months around the world.

The Chicago company delivered 50 of the planes to eight airlines before the grounding order kept them on the tarmac from mid-January until late last month.

The 787s that were already built had to be retrofitted with the new design, which involved insulating and spacing out parts in the battery unit and enclosing the system in stainless-steel cases so that little oxygen can get at them.

FULL COVERAGE: Boeing's troubled Dreamliner

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of marketing for commercial airplanes in Seattle, revealed that all retrofits had been completed in a blog post on the company website on Wednesday.

He also said that most of the airlines -- including United, the only U.S. carrier that currently owns 787s -- have begun 787 commercial flights again.

“Six of our eight in-service customers have returned to passenger service, with the others following in just a matter of days,” he said. “We can’t thank all of them enough for their patience, partnership and support over the past several months.”

All 787s were grounded after a battery fire broke out Jan. 6 on a parked 787 operated by Japan Airlines at Boston's Logan International Airport and a second battery incident occurred less than two weeks later on an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan.

The Federal Aviation Administration then grounded the planes and foreign government aviation agencies followed suit.

On March 14, Boeing unveiled a plan to fix the 787 battery system, which the FAA approved a month later.  The company said the redesign removes any risk of a fire breaking out within the battery system.

Boeing sent kits to airlines in order to fix the plane, but also had 10 teams around the world ready to help with the installation.

Now that the work is finished, Boeing said the fleet will continue to be monitored by its 787 Operations Center in Everett, Wash.

The 787 program has more than 800 unfilled orders with 58 customers worldwide.


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