FAA

AP Photo/AeroVironment

  

Commercial drones are taking to the Northwest skies even though the rules aren't clear. Now the FAA has gotten the first reports of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it's suspended all employee furloughs and says air traffic facilities will begin returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours.

The FAA says in a statement that the air traffic system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening.

Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

With flight delays mounting, the Senate has passed legislation to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers.

Approval came without dissent, and long after many senators had left the Capitol for a weeklong vacation.

A House vote is expected as early as Friday.

NTSB

Federal safety investigators so far have been unable to pinpoint the root cause of a 787 Dreamliner battery fire. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration is weighing whether to let Boeing move ahead with tests of a new battery design. Does the FAA have to wait for the safety investigation to finish? The short answer is, no.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney says the company plans to keep boosting 787 Dreamliner production even while the planes are grounded for a battery investigation.

The grounding of the 787 Dreamliner worldwide after two battery failures dominated Boeing’s 2012 earnings conference call. McNerney says the company still plans to produce 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of this year – twice its current rate.

Vacationers wanting to fly from the Seattle area to destinations such as Hawaii and Phoenix may soon have another option. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved commercial flights out of Paine Field, near Everett. It’s a proposal that’s been in the works for years.

Vanessa Romo / KPLU

It’s years behind schedule and over budget but Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is now approved to carry passengers.

Federal Aviation Administration officials gave their official seal of approval amid swelling music, a flag parade, and a fly over by Airplane Number 2.

AP

Federal officials have issued an emergency order requiring inspections of Boeing planes with similar construction to the Southwest Airlines plane that had a 5-foot tear that led to an emergency landing last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration order Tuesday applies to Boeing 737-300s, 400s and 500s that have a similarly constructed joint where pieces of the plane's skin meet. The joint is at about the midpoint of the passenger cabin.