NTSB scolds Boeing for statements about 787 Dreamliner battery fires


On March 15th, Boeing held a press conference and released a report which both tried to defend the safety of the 787 Dreamliner. That press conference has caused the airplane manufacturer to come under fire from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), whose general counsel, David Tochen, said that the presentation was "inconsistent with our expectations" — a very lawyerly way of slapping Boeing's hand for its conduct that day.

The battery fires that Boeing was trying to downplay have grounded the fleet and sparked investigations from the NTSB and Japanese regulators. Boeing is taking part in those investigations, obviously, and in doing so it agreed to adhere to certain rules that the NTSB set down. Since those investigations have thus far yielded only preliminary findings, Boeing's attempt to explain what happened was premature and, well, self-serving.

"Boeing representatives provided their own analysis and conclusions regarding an ongoing NTSB investigation," said NTSB spokesperson Kelly Nantel. Tochen made it even clearer that Boeing should have kept silent, by noting that the NTSB wasn't even given a head's up about what it would be saying in the press conference, "Boeing is obviously familiar with the NTSB investigative process and its failure to inform the NTSB of the content of the recent technical briefing in Tokyo prior to its occurrence is inconsistent with our expectations for a party."

Meanwhile, earlier rumors week that Boeing would be launching test flights in Japan as early as this week likely won't pan out, as Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau (which also criticized Boeing's press conference) said preparations were not complete. Although the NTSB investigation could take months or years, in the US test flights seem to be closer, as the FAA has approved a certification program for test flights.

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