NTSB probes safety testing of Boeing 787 batteries

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By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators are looking at how regulators and Boeing tested and approved the beleaguered 787 jetliner's cutting-edge battery system, and whether the government cedes too much authority to aircraft makers for safety testing.

Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing officials are scheduled to testify at a two-day hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board beginning Tuesday.

The board is asking how problems with the aircraft's lithium-ion battery system that led to a fire aboard one plane and smoke in another escaped the notice of regulators and company officials who certified the plane's safety.

To save manpower, the FAA designates employees at aircraft makers to oversee the safety testing of new planes. Boeing won FAA safety certification for the 787 in August 2011.

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