Boeing conducts test flight to probe battery fires

Boeing on Saturday carried out an "uneventful" test flight of its 787 Dreamliner as part of investigations into recent battery fires that led international regulators to ground the aircraft.

The flight took off from Seattle, Washington with a crew of 13 pilots and testing personnel at 12.32 pm local time (2032 GMT) and landed at 2.51 pm (2251 GMT), Boeing said.

"During the flight, the crew monitored the performance of the main and APU batteries," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in a statement. He added that special equipment "allowed the crew to observe and record detailed battery performance in normal flight conditions."

He added: "Data gathered during the flight is considered part of the investigations into the 787 battery events that occurred in January.

For that reason, we cannot share any additional details."

Birtel said more test flights were planned for next week.

"As a matter of long-standing practice, we do not provide flight schedules in advance of flight plans being filed," he added.

The test flight had been approved earlier in the week by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

On Friday, Boeing said it had informed buyers of its troubled 787 Dreamliner that deliveries would be delayed as US air safety experts investigate the two burned battery incidents on the aircraft.

On January 16, the 50 Dreamliners in service around the world were grounded after a battery fire on a parked Japan Airlines (JAL) plane and battery smoke on an All Nippon Airways flight forced an emergency landing.

Two days later, Boeing suspended deliveries of the aircraft until further notice, but continued production.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the FAA, and Japanese and French authorities are investigating the cause of the battery incidents.

The NTSB on Thursday suggested it could be weeks before it reaches a conclusion on what caused the battery fire aboard the JAL 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport on January 7.

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