Testing our solution

Today, we got good news from the FAA that they’ve given us the go ahead to start testing and certifying our solution to the 787 battery issue. By successfully completing each step in that plan, the FAA will allow the fleet to return to service.

As I’ve said before, our proposed solution is a permanent one with three layers. We’ll be rolling out more details in the days ahead, but here’s what I can share with you right now.

1) We’ve improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and isolating any that do. That includes the addition of new thermal and electrical insulation materials and other changes.

2) We’ve enhanced production, operating and testing processes to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance of the battery and its components. That includes more stringent screening of battery cells prior to battery assembly. Operational improvements focus on tightening of the system’s voltage range.

3) In the unlikely event of a battery failure, we’ve introduced a new enclosure system that will keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or being noticed by passengers. A key feature ensures that no fire can develop in the enclosure or in the battery.

So what’s next? Flight test activities will begin on two airplanes. Line Number 86 will conduct tests to demonstrate that our solution works as intended in flight and on the ground.

Meanwhile, ZA005 will conduct engine improvement tests unrelated to the battery issue. We may do additional testing if needed.


ZA005, seen in this photo, will take part in engine improvement tests unrelated to the battery issue.

The certification plan calls for a series of tests that show how the improved battery system will perform in normal and abnormal conditions. The test plans were written based on the FAA’s standards as well as applicable guidelines published by the Radio Technical Commission on Aeronautics (RTCA), an advisory committee that provides recommendations on ways to meet regulatory requirements. The RTCA guidelines were not available when the original 787 battery certification plan was developed.

After weeks of work that involved many sleepless nights for hundreds of people, we’re ready to get to work on testing this solution. We’re confident the end result will be a permanent fix that guarantees the safety of the 787 fleet and everyone who flies on the airplanes. We’ll keep you posted every step of the way.

Comments (12)

Alistair (Phoenix):

Congratulations Boeing! Now get this bird back in the air!!!

J.M. Norton (Coppell Texas, USA):

Finally a plan is underway that will make a good airplane even better.

Vaidya Sethuraman (Chicago):

Randy , it is a relief that Boeing is moving into the testing phase of the solution for the battery system safety in flight and on the ground.
I hope Boeing will also find the root cause of the problem and understand where the previous protection layer failed.That would be good for not just Boeing but the airplane industry.
I would still think, it is prudent to have a much improved version of the battery -with a different electrolyte which is less flame prone etc and eliminate the root cause of the battery failures .
It has been very difficult for you guys , hope it will work out and 787 will be back in air in 2-3 months.

Gary Squire (Sydney Australia):

I have flights planned for May aboard the B787 - heart currently in mouth as I wait for an indication of dates from both Boeing and JAL

P Harris (Royston, South Yorkshire, UK):

I have booked a holiday with Thomson specifically to travel to Mexico on the Dreamliner, and was very disappointed to see its grounding. Is there any date yet as to when deliveries will restart. As I'm travelling early August is there still a chance I will be on the 787.


Norman (Long Beach, CA):

Congrats on the first flight, from here this flight hopefully will be a means to get the 787 in the air in as short a time as safely possible.

Sarah (Beverly, MA):

We can't wait to book our flights on the dreamliner!! =)

Loveninao B. Lucas (Sea side Cal. 93955):

Congrat's on the first flight. looking forword to flight the Boeing 787 Dreamliner .

zhang huaichen (singapore):

Yeah dream liner we are waiting for you and I think you are also waiting for us because you need to take us to anywhere of the whole world .I am your super fan .Hopefully ,I can go to fly with you immediately.

Smokerr (Anchorage, AK ):

While its outstanding news that the 787 is close to being put back into service, what I would like to know what occurs mid pacific if there is a battery failure?

ETOPs requires a diversion to nearest alternative when some equipment fails, so is it true that "in case of a battery failure, the aircraft can continue onto its destination"? Or does it have to divert?

Obviously if an engine fails that is automatic, but other equipment failures trigger that as well I believe.

Exactly where do the battery systems (two) stand and are they different as to loosing one and continuing or loosing either one and diverting?

If diversion is the answer for one or both, then it also can be stated that like certain other ETOPs required equipment with a battery failure, the aircraft diverts to the nearest alternative.

Dennis Chakola (Kharghar,Maharashtra,INDIA):

Great news on the B-787.I'm eagerly awaiting the return of the "Dreamliner" to active service.We have about 6 or 7 here in Air India.I have been inside them as a Trainee Engineering Student while at Air India and I can't wait to fly on them.
Keep up the good work Boeing!
Good Luck and God Bless.

Robert Gardner (uk):

I cant say I am all that impressed with the solution proposed, increasing the Battery containers ability to confine any combustion increases its ability to explode violently. Q. Has anyone asked the question as to what is the actual mechanism for the battery failing?
I know that these batteries require special charging and monitoring of individual cells and as far as we are led to believe, over-charging/over-voltage faults have been eliminated as a possible cause.
Q. Has water ingress into the battery plates been investigated?
Lithium reacts violently with water, only a small amount can cause overheating leading to insulation breakdown and subsequent pole to pole shorting of the entire battery and thus fire. This is a possible mechanism for what the 787 is experiencing and could be sourced to condensation from temperature/ altitude changes during flight or even to a leaking Toilet/galley drain. Can this possibility be instrumentated with additional humidity sensors?
I am genuinely interested in the solution for Boeing and offer these comments in assistance to that goal. I am all to aware how specialised everyone has to be these days but specialisation can leave gaps / interfaces of ignorance between disciplines and an Electrical engineer may know little of the Chemical hazard possibilities involved.

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