To get its 787 Dreamliner flying again, Boeing Co is testing the plane’s volatile battery system to a rigorous standard that the company itself helped develop — but that it never used on the jet.
Boeing’s decision has thrust an arcane standard known as RTCA to the center of the debate over whether Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were rigorous enough when they originally set standards for the 787 battery system in October 2007.
A committee co-chaired by Boeing published safety guidelines in March 2008 for using lithium-ion batteries on aircraft to minimize the risk of fire.
But because they arrived five months after the FAA had approved a set of special conditions for the fire safety of the Dreamliner battery system, Boeing did not have to meet the more stringent guidelines.
The FAA never required it, and Boeing did not choose to use them.