The Senate's aviation subcommittee will investigate the FAA's oversight of the Boeing 787 design, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The hearing has not been officially announced but is expected in the next few weeks, according to an aide. Reuters also noted that under special conditions granted to Boeing by federal regulators in 2007, the lithium-ion battery was determined to be safe as long as if the battery caught fire during flight, the flames were contained and the smoke and fumes were vented. Boeing said redundant protections against overcharging made a battery fire "extremely unlikely," and if it did occur, the fire could safely burn itself out.
The Air Line Pilots Association objected to the granting of the special conditions at the time, according to Reuters. ALPA wanted the FAA to require cabin crew to be equipped with fire extinguishers and training to put out a lithium-ion battery fire. Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia talked with AVweb's Russ Niles this week about the 787 issues and implications; click here to listen to the podcast.