Call it the little jet engine that could, then couldn't, and now can again. Boeing's 787 Dreamliner airplane, grounded in January when two lithium-ion batteries showed signs of flaming and smoking, is limping its way back to the skies.
Today the Federal Aviation Administration posted a safety order that allows U.S. airlines to fly the plane, though only United has any in its fleet (the rest are owned by overseas carriers, like launch customer ANA). Modification kits approved by the FAA this week will be installed in each of the 50 Dreamliners around the world.
Last year we hitched a ride on the first commercial Dreamliner flight out of Seattle, a Tokyo trip that wasn't without its own unrelated glitches. Our verdict: Very cool—once it got off the ground.
Is the plane worth its extra space, greener fuel use, and improved air quality? Most airplane experts think so; local airline blogger David Parker Brown called it a "revolutionary plane" that's a big a deal as the first jet planes back in 1952. Boeing has its battery issue under control in existing planes, and all new planes will be made with modified battery systems. Would you get on board a Dreamliner?