Boeing: 787 battery changes will prevent fires

Conner said Boeing's proposal called for three layers of fire prevention mechanisms for the 787's lithium batteries.

"First, we've improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and to isolate any that do," he said. "Second, we've enhanced production, operating and testing processes to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance of the battery and its components. Third, in the unlikely event of a battery failure, we've introduced a new enclosure system that will keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or being noticed by passengers."

Obama administration officials have cautioned approval of the Boeing battery plan did not automatically mean the planes were ready to fly commercial airline passengers again.

“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Tuesday. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

Conner said the company would reassure LaHood and airline passengers that the 787 was safe to fly.

"We have a great deal of confidence in our solution set and the process for certifying it," he said. "Before 787s return to commercial service, our customers and their passengers want assurance that the improvements being introduced will make this great airplane even better. That's what this test program will do."