FAA Keeping 787 Grounded

From the New York Times:

Boeing is conducting laboratory tests on its proposed fixes for the lithium-ion batteries on its new 787 jets, and federal regulators said Tuesday that they would need to see the results before deciding whether to allow flight tests.

I’m a bit puzzled why the FAA gets to regulate test flights so tightly. If Boeing can show their test flight plan doesn’t take them over populated areas then shouldn’t they be allowed to assume the risk/cost of test flights? Maybe there is something I’m missing here.

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