SEATTLE – Boeing is still waiting for the sign-off from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin test flights to fix the Dreamliner’s battery problems.
At Boeing Field Tuesday afternoon, Boeing’s fifth 787 dedicated to flight testing was a busy scene, with stairs going into the forward and aft cargo bays where the plane’s lithium ion batteries are kept, as well as the main cabin. The plane is known as ZA005.
The plane will have two jobs, research and testing a fix for battery problems. Flight testing could help Boeing figure out why two lithium ion batteries aboard two 787s failed in service.
The first incident occurred on January 7 in Boston, when a battery caught fire in the rear electrical bay of a Japan Air Lines 787 15 minutes after passengers and crew got off at Boston’s Logan airport.
A second battery, one located in the forward electrical bay underneath the cockpit, began smoking 20 minutes into a domestic flight over western Japan on January 16. The world fleet of 50 787s was grounded shortly after the second incident, and Wednesday will mark the start of the fourth week of the 787 grounding.
The plane will also test possible fixes for the 787 problem. As KING 5 first reported last week, Boeing is considering a stronger containment box that would vent any smoke or debris directly outside the plane.