While history suggests that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner could one day be a productive part of the skies, that day may not come soon. Experts tell Bloomberg that the investigation into the aircraft's battery-related fires — which grounded all Dreamliner planes around the world — could take months or years to conclude.
Outgoing US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that there's "no pressure" to get the 787 flying again, and a National Transportation Safety Board representative reiterated that there's no deadline. Tom Haueter, retired director of the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety, told the publication that the investigation could last years, due to the evidence damaged by fire.
"The worst scenario is you don't find anything."
Apparently, there's a chance the NTSB won't find anything at all. John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, offers this perspective: "The worst scenario is you don't find anything. And if you don't find anything, you actually have to correct all the things it could possibly be, even though there's no direct evidence. That's more complicated and expensive."
While Boeing CEO Jim McNerney continues to defend his firm's use of large lithium-ion batteries in the 787 — a point his occasional competitor SpaceX CEO Elon Musk disputes — Bloomberg reports that the batteries are far from the only part of the 787 that US investigators are checking. Though batteries are a focus, the NTSB is studying the entire plane to rule out other possible causes of overheating. "We're going to get this right," LaHood told a press conference in Virginia.