FAA expects staff recommendation on 787 next week

WASHINGTON — Experts at the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to say next week whether they recommend accepting the Boeing Co.’s plan to fix 787 Dreamliners so the planes can resume flying, the agency head said Wednesday.

Officials in the FAA office in Renton that certifies new planes as safe for flight are reviewing a Boeing proposal to revamp the 787’s lithium ion batteries to prevent them from catching fire, or to protect the plane in case of fire, Administrator Michael Huerta said.

Huerta declined to say when he might decide whether to accept the plan or how long it might be before the planes are back in the air.

Boeing officials presented the plan to Huerta last week.

The planes have been grounded since Jan. 16 after a battery caught fire in a 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport and a smoking battery in a different 787 forced an emergency landing in Japan.

Calling the plan “very comprehensive,” Huerta said Boeing engineers worked with outside experts to narrow the potential causes of the incidents to a few possibilities, and then redesigned the batteries. The 787 has two identical 32-volt batteries, each with eight cells.

Investigators have said the incidents began with short-circuiting in a single cell, leading to a chemical reaction that causes progressively hotter temperatures. That spread the short-circuiting and fire to other cells.

Boeing’s plan includes redesigning the batteries to prevent individual cells from catching fire, Huerta said. Should that fail, the plan includes steps to prevent a fire from spreading to other cells or outside the box that contains all eight of the cells.

“What Boeing has assembled is a team to look at the universe of potential causes, and their proposal is to mitigate all of them,” Huerta said.

If the plan is approved, the next step would be extensive engineering and testing before any final determination could be made on resuming flights, he said. He described the process as “effectively a certification plan.”

“We have to be assured that this is a good plan and that it is going to result in a safe situation,” Huerta said.

More in Herald Business Journal

Delta’s farewell tour for the Boeing 747 stops in Everett

It is the last domestic airline to retire the iconic plane. Boeing and Delta employees autographed it.

Sign of the future: Snohomish business aims to reshape industry

Manifest Signs owner thinks that smart signs is an unexplored and untapped part of his industry.

Boeing says Bombardier dumping puts 737 planes in jeopardy

“If you don’t level the playing field now, it will be too late.”

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

For half of Americans, the stock market’s highs don’t help

Fewer than 14percent of American households directly own stock in any company.

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

Most Read