Global aircraft giant Boeing Inc, which has been struggling with battery problems in its advanced 787 Dreamliner aircraft, said that it has conducted a test flight with revamped batteries.
The 787 aircraft, built for LOT Polish Airlines took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington on Monday at 12:11 pm. The aircraft had a six-member crew consisting of two pilots, two instrumentation engineers, one systems operator and one flight analyst.
The test flight lasted for 2 hours and 9 minutes and landed back at Paine Field at 2:20 pm.
''The flight went according to plan,'' the crew reported.
During the check flight, crews cycled the landing gear and operated all the back up systems, in addition to performing electrical system checks from the flight profile.
Boeing said that data from the functional check flight will be analysed and the company will begin preparations for certification ground and flight demonstration in coming days.
The plan will include one certification demonstration flight to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during flight conditions. The company has not disclosed when further test flight will take place.
About a fortnight ago, Boeing unveiled the proposed redesign of 787 batteries on getting the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) approval for testing and certifying the revamped battery system. (See: Boeing revamps Dreamliner batteries; to get airborne 'in weeks')
The battery system improvements include enhanced production and operating processes, improved battery design features and a new sealed battery enclosure.
The highest charge allowed in the battery monitoring unit and charger will be lowered and the level allowed for discharge will be raised. Each cell of the battery charger will be better insulated, and the wiring inside the battery will be made more resistant to heat and chafing.
Additionally, small holes will be provided at the bottom of the battery cast to allow moisture to drain away and large side holes will be made to allow a failed battery to vent easily.
Moreover, the battery will now be enclosed in sealed stainless steal, which isolates it from the rest of the electronic equipment and any fumes or heat that build up in the enclosure will be vented outside the airplane.
The company hopes to restart ''in weeks'' all 787 Dreamliner flights that were grounded in mid-January following two fire incidents involving its batteries.
However, despite the efforts, Boeing may be imposed a temporary ban on some of the long-distance, trans-ocean flights the 787 may intend to undertake, according to Reuters' report yesterday citing views from aviation experts.
"If the FAA approves only over-land operations it would be a very damaging blow to the 787 program," said Scott Hamilton, an aviation analyst with Leeham Co in Seattle.
"Depending on how long that restriction remains in place, it would completely undermine the business case for the airplane, which was to be able to do these long, thin intercontinental routes" over water, he said.