No pushback from Boeing on 787 defects

Boeing did not push back Friday against the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) findings about defects in batteries on the 787 "Dreamliner," instead saying it "welcomes" the information.

The NTSB said this week that the batteries on a 787 that caught fire exhibited signs of accelerated temperature increases and short circuiting. The incident prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ground 787s nationwide.

The batteries, which are rechargeable lithium-ion, sparked an electrical fire on one 787 and caused smoke on another before the planes were taken out of flight.

Boeing said after the NTSB released the preliminary findings that it was grateful for the information that has been gleaned thus far.

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"Boeing welcomes the progress being made in the 787 investigation discussed [this week] by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C.," the company said in a statement. "The regulatory and investigative agencies in the U.S. and Japan have dedicated substantial resources to these investigations, and we appreciate their effort and leadership."

The NTSB said this week that the 787 batteries showed signs of "thermal runaway," which may have resulted in the airplane's electrical fire.

NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman stressed that the agency's findings were "symptoms," not direct causes, of the incidents that led to the 787 being grounded.

Hersman said, however, that the airplane's battery problems were an "unprecedented event."

"This is a very serious air safety concern," Hersman said during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

"This aircraft has been in the air for less than 100 hours, and to see two battery events in its early lifespan is not what we would expect," Hersman continued.

Boeing said it was "working this issue tirelessly" and cooperating with both the NTSB and the FAA's separate investigations.

"Boeing continues to assist the NTSB and the other government agencies in the U.S. and Japan responsible for investigating two recent 787 incidents," the company said. "The company has formed teams consisting of hundreds of engineering and technical experts who are working around the clock with the sole focus of resolving the issue and returning the 787 fleet to flight status.

"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority," the Boeing statement continued. "Boeing is eager to see both investigative groups continue their work and determine the cause of these events, and we support their thorough resolution."

The NTSB took pains to explain in its briefing to reporters that it would not make the decision on when the 787 would be allowed to return to flight. That decision, Hersman said several times Thursday, would come from the agency that originally grounded the planes, the FAA.

Neither than FAA nor the Department of Transportation has provided a time frame for the lifting of the order that U.S. airlines stop flying the 787.