FAA examining if 787s can make lengthy overwater flights

SEATTLE -- After seemingly gaining clearance following repairs made to its faulty ion-batteries, Boeing may now be facing another hurdle -- the ability to fly lengthy over-water flights, the Seattle Times reported.

On Tuesday, FAA chief Michael Huerta testified before a U.S. Senate committee that some of the embattled 787's longer flights, such as those between California and Japan, may need to be less direct and fly closer to coastlines to keep the planes within a 3-hour distance of an airport, the Times reported.

The planes are designed to fly 9,400 miles nonstop. The 787 was awarded ETOPS certification -- Extended Twin-Engine Operations -- and is an important component to the 787's viability, the paper said.

The 787 has been hobbled by problems with its battery, and the FAA grounded the planes on Jan. 16. Huerta told reporters after his Senate testimony that the agency will decide "very soon" as to when it will allow the jets back in the air, the paper said.

Boeing had no comment on Huerta's testimony, the Times reported.