The Final Exam
7:12 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Boeing Says Certification Flight Is Days Away

Boeing says a 787 Dreamliner destined for LOT Polish Airlines will take the certification test that could return the 787 fleet to the skies worldwide.

An event meant to celebrate the opening of Boeing's new commercial airplane delivery center in Everett was interrupted by the LOT plane's takeoff on Wednesday. Boeing spokesmen said this was a two-hour run to test unnamed components, not the new design for the lithium-ion battery.

The officials said the plane will carry the new battery design when it flies the certification test  sometime in the next few days.

That flight, said one Federal Aviation Administration official, is a "final exam." The FAA's certification office in Seattle will use that test to judge whether to lift the airworthiness directive that has grounded the 787 fleet since January. The FAA could decide more testing or design work is needed.

Boeing Senior Vice President Pat Shanahan told reporters he could not say when the 787 would be back in service. However, he said, "The cooperation and the work that’s gone on between the regulators and the Boeing company  has been very very solid."

Even if Boeing gets the 787 back in the air soon, the fallout from the battery smoke and fire incidents will continue. The National Transportation Safety Board holds a two-day investigative hearing later this month. That hearing will focus on the design and testing of the 787’s battery and ask how it could have been certified in the first place.

Help Carolyn Adolph follow up on this story.