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FAA to launch comprehensive review of Boeing 787

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 11, 2013 at 6:46 a.m.

— The Federal Aviation Administration is undertaking a comprehensive review of the critical systems of Boeing’s 787s, the aircraft maker’s newest and most technologically advanced plane, after a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week, the agency said Friday.

The review will include the design, manufacture and assembly of those systems, the FAA said in a statement. Officials plan to detail the review at a news conference Friday morning.

The 787, which Boeing calls the “Dreamliner,” relies more than any other modern airliner on electrical signals to help power nearly everything the plane does. It’s also the first Boeing plane to use rechargeable lithium ion batteries, which charge faster and can be molded to space-saving shapes compared to other airplane batteries. The plane is made with lightweight composite materials instead of aluminum.

A Boeing official said the company is working with the FAA. The FAA statement gave no indication that the agency intends to limit or prohibit the 787 from flying during the review.

“We are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787,” Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said. “We are working with the FAA and our customers to ensure we thoroughly understand any introductory issues that arise. While we take each issue seriously, nothing we’ve seen in service causes us to doubt the capabilities of the airplane.”

A fire ignited Monday in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers as the plane sat on the tarmac at Boston’s Logan International Airport. It took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the blaze. Also this week, a fuel leak delayed a flight from Boston to Tokyo of another Japan Airlines 787.

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