Boeing schedules 787 functional test flight today

Washington DC
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Boeing has filed a flight plan to launch the first functional check of its proposed fix for the 787's lithium-ion batteries.

The scheduled 97min flight will start from Boeing's widebody airliner factory in Everett, Washington at 11:10 local time, and will use aircraft line number 86. The aircraft is owned by Boeing and ordered by LOT Polish Airlines.

The flight will help Boeing validate the results of laboratory testing on the redesigned battery and enclosure system for the 787.

"During a functional check flight, crews cycle the landing gear and operate all the backup systems, in addition to performing electrical system checks from the flight profile," Boeing says.

A possible follow-on flight for certification could happen in the next few days.

That two flights are intended to settle the battery issue that has kept the 787 fleet grounded for more than two months.

Safety investigators in the USA and Japan are continuing to search for the root cause of the battery failures on two 787s in Boston and over Japan in January.

In the meantime, Boeing developed what it considers to be a safer version of the same lithium-ion battery that failed two months ago. It includes improved monitoring and separation within and between each of the eight cells inside the battery.

Boeing also replaced the battery box with a steel enclosure designed to prevent a fire from starting, and then to contain any flames if a fire does break out. The system also introduces a new pipe to vent any exhaust and fumes directly outside the aircraft from inside the battery compartment.

The results of the ground and flight tests still need approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Boeing plans to retrofit the new battery and enclosure design on the 49 787s already delivered, then flow the changes into the production system.