FAA allows special Boeing 787 flight after grounding others over fire risk

Posted at 8:38 AM, Feb 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-07 08:38:47-05

Dreamliner 787 DebutFrom Ric Ward

(CNN) — A Boeing 787 Dreamliner — the model grounded last month amid concerns over fire risk — is being allowed a one-time, special flight Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

The 787 will fly from Fort Worth, Texas, to Everett, Washington, representatives from the FAA and Boeing said.

The plane was in Texas for a paint job and will return to Washington Thursday, Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said.

A federal probe into electrical fires led to the grounding of all 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners around the world last month.

Two recent incidents — a fire aboard a Japan Airlines aircraft at Boston’s Logan International Airport on January 7 and a smoke alarm aboard a plane flying over Japan on January 16 — prompted the FAA to ground all Dreamliners in the United States, and other nations quickly followed suit.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said federal investigators had not been able to determine the causes of fires in two plane batteries or the electrical shorts that occurred. The NTSB said it was trying to determine which problem happened first and caused the other.

With the exception of Thursday’s “ferry flight,” the $200 million planes remain grounded until the manufacturer can demonstrate that the problem is fixed and the plane safe to fly.

FAA spokeswoman Brie Sachse said the special flight Thursday must adhere to certain conditions:

— Before flight, the crew must perform inspections to verify that the batteries and cables show no signs of damage

— The pre-flight checklist must include a mandatory check for specific status messages that could indicate possible battery problems

— The plane must fly directly from Fort Worth to Everett

— While airborne, the crew must continuously monitor the flight computer for battery related messages and land immediately if one occurs

Only the people needed to operate the flight will be on board, Sachse said.

CNN’s Charles Riley, Yoko Wakatsuki and Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.

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