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Tue, Feb 19, 2013

Boeing Eyes Short-Term Battery Solution

Will Propose Interim Fix As Early As This Week

Boeing thinks it has a short-term solution to the battery problems that have grounded the entire fleet of Dreamliners for more than a month, and hopes to be able to propose a stop-gap fix to regulators as early as this week.

The solution the planemaker will reportedly put forward would encase the suspect battery packs in a steel or titanium containment box, with a venting system that would carry any gasses in the event of a battery fire directly out of the airplane. But Boeing admits that it has not yet identified the root cause of the fires.

The Seattle Times reports that without that knowledge, Boeing is unable to craft a permanent solution to the problem, and the FAA has not said if the interim fix is acceptable. One government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that he would not be surprised if it were several weeks before "everyone is comfortable" and the planemaker is allowed to proceed.

Once that comfort level is reached, it could be nearly another month before Boeing is able to design, engineer, and test the containment, according to a company source.

But Boeing is not ready to give up on the lithium-ion batteries that have been identified as the problem. Spokesman Marc Birtel told the paper that "good progress is being made," and that the company is "confident in the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries."

(Dreamliner image from file)



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