Boeing has asked the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to resume test flights of its B787 Dreamliner, a company spokesperson has revealed.
Speaking to Bloomberg this week, Marc Birtel said the planemaker had “submitted an application to conduct test flights”, and that the FAA is currently considering the request.
All Dreaminers are currently grounded while the FAA, Boeing and the US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), along with other agencies, investigate problems with the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries. Conducting test flights however, would allow the investigators to examine the batteries during operation. The overheating of a JAL 787 battery took place at Boston following a long-haul flight from Tokyo, while other problems on ANA and United Airlines aircraft have been experienced during flight.
In a recent statement, the NTSB’s chairman, Deborah Hersman admitted that the cause of the battery problems was still unknown. The Japanese-made batteries are believed to be overheating, short-circuiting, and in the case of the JAL aircraft at least, catching fire. Boeing’s request to conduct test flights could indicate that it is no closer to solving the riddle while the planes remain grounded.
In the meantime, the entire global fleet of 50 B787 Dreamliners remains grounded and all deliveries are on hold. JAL was reported this week as saying that it was planning to request compensation for lost revenues as a result of the grounding, and other airlines are likely to follow suit. ANA has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights, while JAL has postponed the launch of its planned Tokyo-Helsinki route.
Boeing however, has maintained an optimistic outlook, forecasting the delivery of 61 Dreamliners in 2013 – almost double the 31 it delivered last year.