Mar 15 - Boeing unveils upgraded batteries which they say will eliminate the risk of fire, adding that flights may resume within weeks. Lily Grimes reports.
Boeing could get its fleet of 787 Dreamliners back in the air after the company unveiled an improved battery system on Friday. All 50 of Boeing's Dreamliners have been grounded since January. Two battery related incidents including a fire were reported on crafts operated by Japan's national carrier ANA. Engineers are now fully confident of the battery's safety after the upgrade. The aircraft maker said at a Tokyo briefing it would encase the jet's lithium-ion batteries in stainless steel cases, and provide the power pack with extra insulation to prevent overheating. Boeing VP Mike Sinnett expressed cautious optimism. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BOEING COMMERCIAL AIRPLANES VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF PROJECT ENGINEER, MIKE SINNETT SAYING: "We believe it's reasonable to expect that we could have the changes certified within weeks rather than within months. However, if we learn anything along the way, than we'll stop and we'll change our plan if we have to and we'll react accordingly." The company faces pubic hearings in the U.S. in April on the safety of its lithium-ion batteries. Analysts have put the cost of the grounding at about 400 million U.S. dollars and counting.