It would also address concerns voiced by Japanese aviation regulatory authorities in recent weeks.
Nor is it without precedent. Until the late 1980s, the FAA required airlines to fly a certain number of hours over land before it approved extended-range operations over water or remote areas. It started granting permission for those flights in tandem with flight certification when engine safety improved.
But the highly electrical nature of the 787 has raised new questions, said another former U.S. official, noting that the importance of the lithium-ion batteries for the plane’s operation made it a bigger risk factor than past batteries.
“In the past, if you lost a battery, or a battery malfunctioned, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” said that former U.S. official.
“But if Boeing’s battery is needed to start the engine - and that battery is susceptible to fire - isn’t that a turn back condition? Isn’t that something you have to go land at an airport to address? That’s the question.”