FAA official gives no date for 787 battery approval

The Federal Aviation Administration’s top official gave no indication Tuesday whether the agency will sign off on Boeing Co.’s redesigned 787 battery system.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that Boeing has completed all the testing and analysis on the new battery.

The FAA is reviewing the company’s reports, Huerta told the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. However, Huerta did not say how quickly the FAA will decide whether to return the 787 to commercial flight.

The agency grounded Boeing’s 787 on Jan. 16 after two Dreamliner jets experienced battery failures. Boeing had delivered 49 of its new fuel-efficient 787 at the time of the grounding.

Huerta, along with Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, were among witnesses called to testify at a hearing about aviation safety.

The NTSB continues to investigate the Jan. 7 fire and smoke incident involving a 787 in Boston, Hersman said. The safety board last week held a forum on the use of lithium-ion batteries in transportation. The NTSB also plans to hold a hearing next week on the 787 battery problems. Hersman’s submitted this testimony to the committee.

Senators questioned Huerta about the affects of budget cuts on the FAA, which has announced a plan to close control towers at 149 small airports.

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