Boeing finishes 787 testing, focus shifts to regulators

Fri Apr 5, 2013 7:55pm EDT
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By Alwyn Scott and Tim Hepher

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With a successful flight on Friday, Boeing moved closer to proving that a revamped safety system can prevent batteries on its new 787 Dreamliner from catching fire or overheating, and getting back the plane into service.

Friday's test flight concludes testing after little more than three weeks, and moves the Dreamliner closer to resuming passenger flights, restarting jet deliveries, and stemming millions of dollars in losses that have piled up at airlines and Boeing since the jet was grounded more than two months ago.

The end of testing also turns attention from Boeing Co to regulators in the United States, Japan and Europe, who must decide whether the fix for the high-tech plane's lithium-ion batteries is safe.

Amid gusty winds, a LOT Polish airline plane rose from a runway near the Boeing factory just north of Seattle and soared out along the Pacific Coast, covering 755 miles in just under two hours before touching down at 12:28 pm Pacific Time (1928 GMT).

The jet, carrying test equipment and Federal Aviation Administration officials, flew a similar route to a test run March 25. Boeing pronounced the flight "straightforward" and "uneventful" after the jet returned to earth safely.

"Boeing will now gather and analyze the data and submit the required materials to the FAA ... in coming days," the company said in a statement.

"Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations."

Industry officials and airlines that operate the fuel-efficient plane have said they expect it could be flying again as early as April or May. Boeing has said it should happen in weeks, not months.   Continued...

A man looks at a scale model of Boeing's 787 dreamliner at their booth at the Singapore Air Show in Singapore February 19, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash