After three weeks on the ground, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner soon will return to the skies - but only so engineers can test the plane's troubled electrical and battery systems, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.
The FAA approved test flights for the Boeing planes with strict conditions to assure safety: Only essential personnel will be on board, crews must continuously monitor the plane for battery-related problems and tests will be conducted over unpopulated areas.
"These flights will be an important part of our efforts to ensure the safety of passengers and return these aircraft to service," the agency said.
Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in a statement that the company is "confident" the tests could be conducted safely, and said one Boeing aircraft has been designated for the test.
The Dreamliner is the first commercial aircraft to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries, which can hold more electrical power in a smaller, lighter space. However, dangerous problems with batteries overheating have caused the 787 fleet to be grounded.FULL STORY