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Boeing proposes emergency fix to get Dreamliners back in the air

Posting in Design

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner battery woes continue, but the firm plans to propose a short-term fix as early as this week.

According to the Seattle Times, the carrier plans to get fliers up in the air again as quickly as possible -- unsurprising considering the endless list of airlines who have grounded their Boeing 787 fleets until a solution to continual battery problems is found.

In order to make the Dreamliner fleet safe enough to ferry about commercial passengers, Boeing intends to re-design of the lithium-ion battery which has caused so many issues -- ranging from causing emergency landings in Japan to cabin fires and overheating.

Fleets have been grounded worldwide, including in the U.S., Japan, Chile and Europe.

Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the publication says that while the re-design goes ahead -- which could take the best part of a year -- Boeing will propose a "heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box" that would fit around the battery cells, and then if there is a battery fire, any gases resulting from overheating would escape via high-pressure evacuation tubes.

I can't say that this method fills me with confidence, and it may not be the case that this stop-gap will be acceptable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) either. It might stop the plane from suffering damage, but there's no reason to suggest overheating wouldn't require an emergency stop.

The battery issues may be costing Boeing a fortune -- without considering potential lawsuits placed at their doors by airlines who have purchased the planes -- but perhaps the company's efforts should be focused on prevention, and not a band-aid solution which may still place passengers in danger.

Image credit: Boeing

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— By on February 19, 2013, 10:54 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure