Boeing has begun testing new batteries for the 787 Dreamliner
Last week, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flew to test new batteries. It went according to plan, but the results need to be analyzed and other tests will likely follow. The FAA will issue a verdict on these tests in mid-April.
As a result of incidents earlier this year involving 787 Dreamliner aircraft, Boeing was forced to redesign lithium-ion batteries. They will come with new safety systems, they will benefit from metal enclosures, isolated cells, exhaust system of any gases accumulated inside the battery, support for overvoltage, etc.
The incidents led to the blockade of the 50 of aircraft in commercial service. The FAA will not approve their take-off until the 100% battery problem is resolved and until additional safety measures are taken.
All this results in losses of over 50 million dollars a week to the American aircraft manufacturer. Boeing is not allowed to deliver 787 aircraft until the batteries are resolved. Plus, operators who own 787 aircraft are unhappy with the situation and demand compensation.
Hopefully, the new battery will be safer and more efficient, and test flights will run as normal. Estimates show that by June we could see Boeing 787 planes on commercial flights. ANA, the operator that owns 17 units, has requested to take priority in the modernization of the aircraft and insists that the situation should enter the normal range from mid-June. From the beginning of the year until now, ANA has canceled over 3600 flights, and many others have been operated with other types of aircraft.
To overcome the unpleasant situation, the Norwegian Air Shuttle chartered an Airbus A340-300 until the end of August. The Norwegian operator was due to take possession of the first 787 Dreamliner in May, but delivery will be delayed by a few weeks.
I would like to point out that the test flight with 787, from 27 to March 2013, is not the first performed after the FAA has blocked this type of aircraft on the ground. On 9 February, another 787 took a test flight with the old battery.