US regulators have approved Boeing’s redesigned battery for the 787 Dreamliner, moving the company one step closer to getting its planes back in the air after being grounded in January.
By giving its green-light, the Federal Aviation Administration allows Boeing to make repairs to the 50 planes owned by some eight airlines, including Qatar Airways.
But Boeing has still not offered a timeline for when the aircrafts will return to the sky, only saying it expects to resume deliveries of its planes in the weeks ahead and complete 2013 deliveries by year-end.
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said earlier this month that he expects at least four of his Dreamliners to fly by the end of April.
But whether that deadline can be met is uncertain.
More approvals needed
Before the Dreamliners can fly in Qatar, Japan and elsewhere outside of the US, additional approvals will have to be made by authorities in those countries.
The FAA said it will work with these officials to finalize their own acceptance procedures.
The 787s, which have been grounded for more than three months due to a problem with overheating lithium-ion batteries, will sport new containment and venting systems for the batteries.
In a statement, Boeing CEO Ray Conner said:
“This is a comprehensive and permanent solution with multiple layers of protection. The ultimate layer of protection is the new enclosure, which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire. We have the right solution in hand, and we are ready to go.
Qatar Airways, which owns five Dreamliners, is expected to receive five more this year, and has ordered a total of 30 jets for some $207 million apiece.
Credit: Photo by Richard Deakin