NTSB to hold briefing on Boeing 787 battery

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a news conference Thursday morning to question if the Federal Aviation Authority and Boeing adequately tested the lithium ion batteries that caught fire in U.S. and Japan.

This comes on the same day the Dreamliner will once again take flight after being grounded in January, as the FAA has given Boeing a green light for a ferry flight.

A local Boeing spokesman released a statement saying the company was continuing to work with investigators to determine the cause of the fire.

"Under permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Boeing is conducting a ferry flight of a Boeing-owned 787. The flight is planned for Thursday, Feb. 7. While our work to determine the cause of the recent battery incidents continues in coordination with appropriate regulatory authorities and investigation agencies, we are confident - as is the FAA - that the 787 is safe to operate for this activity. Safety of the crew on board is our top priority. The ferry airplane, Line 43 has been in Texas for painting as part of our production process and will be returning to Everett, Wash.," the official said.

Boeing officials say there will be minimal crew on board and constant monitoring of the battery system which has been linked to fires aboard the Dreamliner aircraft. Federal officials say it could still take weeks before they know what caused the 787 battery fires in the U.S. and Japan last month.

On the tail end of that positive news, the company is dealing with another set back.

United Airlines says it's taking the troubled Boeing 787 out of its flying plans for the rest of this month and replacing it with other planes.

The National Transportation Safety Board says despite being linked to fires aboard the Dreamliners, lithium ion batteries may still have a future in aviation, provided there are adequate safeguards.

This gives moral boost to local Boeing employees who just received a near 7 percent bonus for their work last year in completing the first 787 Lowcountry-built Dreamliner with three successful deliveries to Air India.