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NTSB chief: Don't write off Boeing 787's battery just yet

Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, says the investigation is ongoing into the cause of two battery fires on board Boeing 787 Dreamliners, but avoided categorically calling the lithium-ion batteries unsafe.

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Deborah Hersman, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, speaks at the Monitor Breakfast on Wednesday, in Washington.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor

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The federal government's investigation into the battery problems that grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is still "probably weeks away" from reaching a definite conclusion, Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said Wednesday.

The timetable Ms. Hersman offered at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters is not good news for Boeing or for the airlines that own the 50 planes delivered so far. Without a precise diagnosis of the problem, regulators lack a blueprint to fix the battery issue.

Aviation regulators around the world told airlines to ground the new planes after a Jan. 7 battery fire on a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston's Logan Airport. Smoke from another 787’s batteries forced an All Nippon Airways plane to make an emergency landing in western Japan on Jan. 16.

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