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Dreamliner completes crucial test flight. How big a deal?

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(Read caption) A LOT Polish Airlines 787 passenger jet takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The 787 Dreamliner flew a test flight Friday aimed at showing that the plane's new lithium-ion battery system meets regulatory safety standards – a key step in ending a two-month, worldwide grounding of the high-tech jet.

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Boeing’s troubled 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft flew a crucial test flight Friday, one that could help determine whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives it the go-ahead to resume commercial service.

The 787 Dreamliner has been grounded since mid-January because of smoldering batteries, including a fire on the ground in Boston. Boeing has designed what it says is a fix, including more heat insulation and a battery box designed so that any meltdown of the lithium-ion battery will vent the hot gasses outside the plane.

"Today's demonstration flight is the final certification test for the new battery system," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in a statement. "The purpose of the test is to demonstrate that the new system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions."

The FAA will still need to approve the results and certify the battery system before airlines can fly 787s again. Fifty 787s owned by eight airlines have been grounded worldwide. Nine days after the Boston battery fire, a second battery incident led to an emergency landing in Japan.


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