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Dreamliner undergoes test flight

Feb. 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM
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SEATTLE, W.Va., Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Boeing put one of its troubled 787 Dreamliners through a 900-mile test flight over the U.S. West Saturday as it tries to pinpoint a battery fire-hazard problem.

The aircraft took off from Seattle and flew eastward before looping to the south and returning to its starting point more than 2 hours later, The New York Times reported.

It was the first flight of a 787 since the Federal Aviation Administration gave the aircraft manufacturer permission Thursday to conduct in-flight tests, the newspaper noted. The goal is to find out why the new plane's lithium-ion batteries catch fire and come up with a fix.

Boeing spokesman Marc R. Birtel said the crew included 13 pilots and test personnel. Special equipment was used to check status messages involving the batteries and their chargers, and monitor battery temperature and voltage.

Birtel described the flight, which reached 36,000 feet and speeds from 435 to 626 miles per hour, as uneventful.

All of Boeing's 50 operational 787s were grounded after a battery on one caught fire at a Boston airport Jan. 7 and another made an emergency landing in Japan after a battery started smoking.

Birtel said further test flights are expected early this coming week. The Times said battery experts predict it could take weeks for the problem to be solved.

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