The Federal Administration Aviation is disputing reports that it will soon approve testing of a set of battery fixes for the troubled 787 Dreamliner. Last week Boeing presented a number of proposed changes to the FAA intended to address concerns with the plane's lithium-ion batteries. Today The Wall Street Journal reported that the FAA would likely be giving the all-clear next week, with flights to follow sometime thereafter. However, FAA spokesperson Laura Brown has since told Reuters that any claims to that effect are "completely inaccurate."
The FAA grounded the troubled airplane in January after a series of fires related to its lithium-ion batteries. The suite of fixes Boeing proposed are said to have included changes in the venting system, a new cockpit checklist, and a newly-designed fireproof enclosure for the batteries themselves. According to the WSJ, Boeing has already told some customers that if testing starts in early March, the 787 could return to service by the end of the month. Others in the industry put the timeline at April or later.
While there are a number of issues in play, one reason the FAA might be pushing back is that the precise cause of the Dreamliner battery fires still hasn't been determined. Boeing was given FAA approval to run a series of Dreamliner test flights earlier this month focused on data collection, and while they may have helped the company come up with its list of fixes, at this point they haven't revealed the ultimate cause behind the problems. In the meantime, other companies aren't waiting to see what the final answer is: Airbus has already announced it will be dropping lithium-ion batteries from its upcoming Dreamliner competitor, the A350.