Boeing Investigators: We're Just Stumped

But FAA might let company conduct test flights

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 4, 2013 7:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Bad news for Boeing: Two months later, investigators are still scratching their heads over those overheating lithium-ion batteries, the Wall Street Journal reports. Their intense investigation, involving the National Transportation Safety Board, Japanese experts, and outreach to the US Navy and Department of Energy, has not added to last month's conclusion: "The short circuit, the fire, these are all symptoms that something is wrong," said an NTSB official. "These events should not happen."

On the bright side for Boeing is news that federal regulators are leaning toward letting the company conduct test flights of its 787 jets. Boeing says it "has submitted an application to conduct test flights" while its 787 fleet continues to sit on the tarmac. Precedent seems to favor the Dreamliner's return, as the FAA already allows for jet engine fan blades that could go bust in rare cases. Not in Boeing's favor: scary memories of the on-flight battery that burst into flame and another that overheated and forced a Dreamliner into an emergency landing.

National Transportation Safety Board's Joseph Kolly holds an fire-damaged battery from a Boeing flight in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.
National Transportation Safety Board's Joseph Kolly holds an fire-damaged battery from a Boeing flight in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this Feb. 3, 2011, file photo, Boeings' new 787 Dreamliner takes off from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
In this Feb. 3, 2011, file photo, Boeings' new 787 Dreamliner takes off from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)
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