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.