Boeing sends 787 on test flight from Seattle
Boeing sent a 787 up on a test flight Feb. 9, the first since the new airliner was grounded three weeks ago because of a battery fire.
The aircraft took off from Boeing Field in Seattle and spent nearly two and a half hours flying back and forth over the inland Columbia Plateau. It landed at Boeing Field shortly before 3 p.m. PST. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, the aircraft flew for 1,131 miles, slightly more than the 919 planned.
The Federal Aviation Administration granted permission for test flights on Thursday.
The 787 is the first commercial airliner to rely heavily on lithium-ion batteries, the same kind used in cellphones. Each plane has two of the 63-pound blue power bricks, one near the front to provide power to the cockpit if the engines stop, and one near the back to start up the auxiliary power unit, which is essentially a backup generator.
On Jan. 7, a battery on a plane that had recently landed in Boston short-circuited and caught fire. Nine days later, a battery on an All Nippon Airways plane started smoking, forcing an emergency landing in Japan. Boeing said the Feb. 9 flight was to assess the in-flight performance of the batteries. Data would be used to support continuing investigations of the recent incidents.
Boeing has billions of dollars tied up in research on the 787, and billions more dollars in 787s parked in Everett, Wash., and other sites that are waiting to be delivered. AP
China, Russia deny Japanese accusations
Japan’s defense minister has protested the intrusion of two Russian fighter jets into Japanese air space – although Russia has denied any such violation – amid heightened tension over territorial disputes between Japan and its neighbors.
Tokyo said two Russian Su-37 fighters entered Japanese airspace off the northern island of Hokkaido for just over a minute Feb. 7, prompting Japanese air force jets to scramble.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Feb. 8 that Tokyo will deal with the incident “strictly, within the bounds of international law.”
Separately, China’s Defense Ministry issued a statement denying Japanese claims that Chinese naval vessels had locked their weapons-targeting radar on to a Japanese destroyer and helicopter in separate instances last month.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida rejected Beijing’s denial as “completely unacceptable.” AP
NATO rejects UN report on death of Afghan children
The U.S.-led international coalition says a U.N. rights group’s concerns about reports that U.S. military strikes have killed hundreds of children during the past four years are “categorically unfounded.”
The Feb .7 statement by the International Security Assistance Force comes a day after the Geneva-based U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said the casualties were largely due to the use of indiscriminate force and lack of precautionary measures.
The coalition also rejects that claim, saying it takes special care to avoid civilian casualties. The coalition says the number of children who died or were wounded from air operations dropped by nearly 40 percent in 2012 compared with the year before.
U.S. policy on drone targeting and airstrikes is under intense scrutiny. AP
Hundreds attend F-16s transfer meeting
Hundreds of people attended a hearing in North Pole, Alaska, to weigh in on the proposed transfer of Eielson Air Force Base’s F-16 aircraft to Anchorage.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says an audience of more than 300 people gathered at North Pole High School auditorium for the Feb. 7 meeting.
The military is proposing moving 18 F-16 aircraft and three backup aircraft, as well as support and maintenance airmen in order to save money. The move would require that hundreds of military personnel be transferred to JBER and the elimination of 81 positions.
North Pole is the closest town to Eielson and has the most to lose if the military goes through with the transfer of the F-16s and personnel. A decision is expected in the fall. AP