Troubled aircraft maker Boeing has said that it expects to take its grounded Dreamliner 787 fleet back in the air within "weeks" after the company reassured regulators and public that the proposed fix for the battery problems would eliminate the risk of fire.
Earlier, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the company's plan to redesign the lithium-ion batteries used on the plane. All 50 Dreamliners in operation around the world were grounded earlier in January after a battery fire on a Japan Airlines flight at Logan airport in Boston and a second battery incident on an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan.
"As soon as our testing is complete and we obtain regulatory approvals, we will be positioned to help our customers implement these changes and begin the process of getting their 787s back in the air," Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a statement.
"Passengers can be assured that we have completed a thorough review of the battery system and made numerous improvements that we believe will make it a safer, more reliable battery system."
The company noted that the new battery system with several layers of additional safety features is in production and could be installed within the next few weeks. The changes to the battery, the battery charging unit and the battery installation were proposed by Boeing itself.
The company would encase the 787 jet's lithium-ion batteries in stainless steel cases, and provide the power pack with extra insulation, spacers and heat-resistant sleeving to prevent overheating.
Conner noted that the timing of the start of commercial flight would depend on the progress of the certification process. He had anticipated that to take months initially, but now the talks "more along the line of weeks."
At the same time, the FAA has not given any indication of when the planes would resume their commercial operations.