Back in the air: FAA approves 787 battery design changes

boeing787website1After three months of grounding, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is set to fly again.

The Federal Aviation Administration today approved Boeing’s 787 battery changes and has agreed to lift the grounding order that was placed back in January.

After a flurry of overheating lithium ion battery problems and emergency landings in Japan three months ago, the FAA ordered all U.S.-based airlines to ground its Dreamliners until it was proven that the batteries were safe and in compliance.

The FAA will send instructions to airlines next week for making the battery modifications into the 50 Dreamliners here in the U.S. The FAA will then send out representatives to verify the changes and finally, 787 flights should resume so long as they’re 180 minutes from an airport — the same protocol that was originally put in place. This is important, as it lets the Dreamliner fly longer distances.

Keep in mind that this is only the FAA — flight administrations around the world, including Japan’s, must also approve the fixes for certain international flights to start up again. United Airlines is the only U.S. company with the 787 in its fleet.

In related Boeing news, The Seattle Times reported today that as many as 700 Boeing engineers will be laid off beginning today.

Previously on GeekWire: FAA approves Boeing certification plan to test 787 battery fixes