FAA to Issue Directive Allowing Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Return to Service

After being grounded in mid-January due to problems with their lithium-ion batteries, Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplanes will soon be cleared by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return to the air. The FAA had previously grounded 787s due to their lithium-ion batteries overheating, potentially erupting in smoke or fire.

A battery fire broke out on a 787 operated by Japan Airlines last year at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. Another incident in which a battery started smoking forced an All Nippon Airways pilot to make an emergency landing at Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan.

The FAA explained its approval of a revamped battery design in an April 19 press release, stating that a final directive will clear the aircraft for flight once the new battery system has been installed. It is believed that other aircraft regulators around the world will follow the FAA's lead and also approve the 787s revamped battery design.

The Dreamliners will be retrofitted with a "containment and venting" system, including stainless-steel housing for both of the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries. The system is designed to prevent overheating and fumes. "This is a comprehensive and permanent solution with multiple layers of protection," according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The Dreamliner is the world's first aircraft to be outfitted with lithium-ion batteries.