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Transportation Secretary: Duration Of Dreamliner Review Is Unknown

By NPR Staff | 01/23/2013

If you were dreaming of flying soon in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, you have to wake up: Federal Aviation Administration isn't rushing its review of the grounded aircraft.

"We need to get to the bottom of the recent issues with the batteries in the 787 and ensure their safety before these aircraft can be put back in service," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today at an Aero Club luncheon in Washington.

The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive last week, grounding the 787s, owned by airlines around the world.

In a hotel ballroom, LaHood spoke to hundreds of aviation industry insiders, including Boeing officials.

"Boeing is cooperating 100 percent" with the investigation, he said.

At a press conference afterwards, LaHood appeared a bit testy when a horde of reporters asked again and again about the pace – and the findings – of the Dreamliner investigation.

"We're in the business of doing a top to bottom review" of unknown duration, he said. "We need to let them finish their work."

Last week, investigators in Japan, working with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and FAA, inspected the All Nipon Airways Dreamliner that made an emergency landing after battery warning lights turned on and something emitted an unusual odor. Investigators found a charred lithium-ion battery; a similar battery caught fire on a Japan Airlines 787 earlier this month.

P.S. Asked whether he would continue to serve in the second Obama term, LaHood demurred, saying that he didn't think anyone cared much about his plans while the Dreamliner investigation remains on center stage.
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