(TOKYO) -- Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliners could be back in the skies sooner than expected.
At a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, Ray Conner, the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said commercial flights would likely resume in weeks, not months, as has been widely reported.
Nearly 50 Dreamliners have been grounded since January due to battery failures on board flights in Boston and Japan. Investigators have not been able to determine the cause of the failures.
"We may never get to the single root cause," said Boeing Chief Product Engineer Mike Sinnett on Friday. "But the process we've applied to understand what improvements can be made is the most robust process we've ever followed."
Sinnett said the company had already completed three rounds of safety tests on a newly designed battery system. The changes include a new enclosure around the lithium-ion battery, which Sinnett said will prevent a potential fire from spreading.
While Sinnett and Conner repeatedly stressed that batteries alone do not pose a direct threat to airline safety, calling the Dreamliner “among the safest airplanes our company has ever produced,” Sinnett said he could not rule out future battery failures.
“Parts fail. We know that someday a battery may fail. We need to make sure that there is no significant impact a the airplane level when it does,” he said.
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