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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Gets FAA Approval On Battery System

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First Posted: Apr 20, 2013 11:54 AM EDT
The new, fuel efficient 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing flying through the sky.

The new, fuel efficient 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing flying through the sky. Credit:Boeing Press Materials

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has had some trouble getting off the ground due to batteries being on board that could potentially catch fire.

But the Federal Aviation Administration issued its approval on Friday for the plan to fix the faulty batteries.

After being grounded for three months, the 787s will get back in the air after a 500-page manual is released sometime next week so that changes can be made to the plane.

"These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

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The grounding had cost Boeing roughly $600 million. It is estimated that battery costs were up to $50 million a week while the aircraft was grounded.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier of the Dreamliner, with plans to get them on the schedule May 31 and service from Denver to Tokyo starting June 10.

“This is a good step forward,” the company said.

The battery fix takes about five days, with working starting immediately. The FAA will “closely monitor” the procedure.

"The promise of the 787 and the benefits it provides to airlines and their passengers remain fully intact as we take this important step forward with our customers and program partners,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said.

Boeing still plans to complete all deliveries missed during the grounding by the end of the year.

The Dreamliner boasts greater passenger comforts and better fuel efficiency than any other airplane of its kind. This is because the 787 is made of composite materials instead of the traditional metals, making it far more fiscally responsible for airlines who’s main cost is jet fuel.

The Dreamliner goes for about $207 million.

As of now, there are only six 787s that will be in use once the battery fix is done. United Airlines is the only airline that has the aircraft and they have 700 other planes, meaning that this grounding barely hurt them, if at all.

The new battery design includes a steel box encasing the new power pack, different materials, and drainage holes that eliminate moisture and vent gases outside of the aircraft.

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