SEATTLE -- The months-old grounding of the Boeing 787 is expected as early as Friday, KING 5 News has learned.
On Tuesday, FAA administrator Michael Huerta told a Senate Commerce Hearing that all Boeing's tests were finished and that his technical experts were int he process of evaluating the results. But at that point, Huerta did not say when that decision will come. The decision to green light the jet came late Thursday.
KING 5 News is learning that Japanese regulators may require additional restrictions before they allow the 787 to flying in Japan. Over half of the 787 fleet of 50 airplanes that are owned by airlines are based in Japan.
The FAA's grounding legally only affects airlines based in the United States. United Airlines is the only U.S. operator of the 787.
Boeing 787 stopped flying on January 16 when the FAA grounding order was issued. Lithium-ion batteries overheated and in one case caught fire. In two incidents, the first one aboard a Japan Airlines 787 minutes after it landed at Boston's Logan Airport and a second case of smoking batteries in flight aboard an All Nippon Airways jet over Japan on January 16. The grounding order was issued within hours of that second incident.
Boeing has made major changes to the battery and as part of its safety program will contain the battery within a stainless steel housing that would vent any future smoke directly outside the airplane, protecting both the airplane and its passengers and crew.