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FAA allows special Boeing 787 flight after grounding others over fire risk

From Ric Ward, CNN
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 787 that was in Texas for a paint job will return to Washington Thursday
  • Only the crew needed to operate the flight will be on board, the FAA says
  • Last month, all 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners were grounded amid fire concerns

(CNN) -- A Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- the model grounded last month amid concerns over fire risk -- is being allowed a one-time, special flight Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

The 787 took off around 10:25 a.m. (9:25 a.m. CT) from Fort Worth, Texas, bound for Everett, Washington.

The plane was in Texas for a paint job, Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said.

A federal probe into electrical fires led to the grounding of all 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners around the world last month.

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Two recent incidents -- a fire aboard a Japan Airlines aircraft at Boston's Logan International Airport on January 7 and a smoke alarm aboard a plane flying over Japan on January 16 -- prompted the FAA to ground all Dreamliners in the United States, and other nations quickly followed suit.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said federal investigators had not been able to determine the causes of fires in two plane batteries or the electrical shorts that occurred. The NTSB said it was trying to determine which problem happened first and caused the other.

With the exception of Thursday's "ferry flight," the $200 million planes remain grounded until the manufacturer can demonstrate that the problem is fixed and the plane safe to fly.

Japan's ANA replaced faulty batteries on Dreamliner last year

FAA spokeswoman Brie Sachse said the special flight Thursday must adhere to certain conditions:

-- Before flight, the crew must perform inspections to verify that the batteries and cables show no signs of damage

-- The pre-flight checklist must include a mandatory check for specific status messages that could indicate possible battery problems

-- The plane must fly directly from Fort Worth to Everett

-- While airborne, the crew must continuously monitor the flight computer for battery related messages and land immediately if one occurs

Only the people needed to operate the flight will be on board, Sachse said.

What's wrong with the Dreamliner?

CNN's Charles Riley, Yoko Wakatsuki and Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.

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