FAA seeks comment on Dreamliner grounding — one month later

The company is said to have a meeting with federal regulators Friday, when they are expected to present a solution to problems with lithium batteries linked to the malfunctions.

The FAA on Jan. 16 directed U.S. airlines to stop flying the 787s after a series of incidents involving battery defects sparked at least one onboard electrical fire. Aviation agencies in other countries followed suit, leading to a worldwide shutdown and more than a little negative publicity for Boeing.

In the notice to be published Friday, the FAA said the decision to ground the planes without a public comment period was necessitated by potential dangers.

“The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule because of recent incidents involving lithium ion battery failures that resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787-8 airplanes,” according to the notice, which can be found here. “These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”

Still, the agency is inviting the public to comment after the fact. Interested parties will have 45 days to weigh in, beginning Friday.

“We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this (directive),” the FAA said in the notice.

The FAA said the directive applied to six planes of U.S. registry but said officials had received no definitive data allowing them to provide cost estimates for the actions required by the order.

The agency also specifically encouraged comments on those costs.