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FAA clears Boeing for one-time 787 flight

by From wire services /  / Updated 
All Nippon Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner is seen Jan. 19, 2013.
All Nippon Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner is seen Jan. 19, 2013.© Issei Kato / Reuters

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Boeing on Wednesday received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly one Boeing 787 from Fort Worth, Texas, to the Seattle area.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said the flight was scheduled to take place on Thursday. The special permit allows just that airplane to fly from Texas, where it was being painted, to Everett, Wash., where the company assembles 787s.

The FAA said that the only people allowed aboard are those needed to operate the flight, and the crew must perform inspections to verify the batteries and cables show no sign of damage.

The permission comes several weeks after the FAA ordered Boeing to ground all 787s following two serious mishaps involving batteries on the new-model airplane. Boeing is continuing to work with regulators to determine the cause of the incidents but felt confident that it would be safe to fly this airplane, Birtel said.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Boeing is working on a series of battery design changes to minimize fire risks on the 787s and get the passenger jets flying again, possibly as soon as March.

United Airlines announced it is replacing its six Boeing 787s with other planes through the end of February.

Regulators grounded the 787 on Jan. 16 after a battery fire in Boston and a second incident involving a battery on a flight in Japan. Earlier on Wednesday, the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it was "probably weeks away" from completing its probe.

The NTSB, which is investigating the battery incident in Boston, has scheduled a briefing for Thursday to update reporters on the progress it has made.

Information from NBCNews' Allison Linn,Reuters andthe Associated Press was included in this report.

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