Gabby Douglas

Jordan Strauss

FAA followed Boeing's proposal on 787 battery-system testing

WASHINGTON - Federal regulators let Boeing help write the safety conditions for the problematic battery system in its beleaguered 787 "Dreamliner," prescribe how to test it and carry out those tests itself, according to testimony and documents released at a hearing Tuesday.

As airlines prepare to resume flying the 787 after a three-month grounding, the National Transportation Safety Board is looking at how the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and the company's subcontractors tested and approved the 787's lithium-ion batteries, and whether the government grants aircraft makers too much leeway when it comes to safety.

The chief U.S. aviation accident investigator said Tuesday that a Boeing official was providing incomplete information to a safety panel about how it calculated the chances its batteries on the 787 would overheat.

"I think there is some obvious obfuscation here," National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman said on the first day of the hearings.

The exchange came as the NTSB grilled officials from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration over their decision to approve the 787's batteries, two of which failed in January.

Hersman had been asking Mike Sinnett, Boeing's vice president and the 787's chief engineer, how the company had calculated the odds that a battery would overheat and emit smoke or gas. Sinnett said that a manufacturing or assembly defect wasn't included in the calculation.

The hearing will continue today.

Airline service improves, but delays are still possible

NEW YORK - A day after flight delays plagued much of the nation, air travel was smoother Tuesday, but the government warned passengers that the situation could change by the hour as thousands of air-traffic controllers are forced to take furloughs because of budget cuts.

Meanwhile, airlines and members of Congress urged the Federal Aviation Administration to find other ways to reduce spending. Airlines are worried about the long-term costs late flights will have on their budgets and on passengers.

The delays are the most visible effect yet of Congress and the White House's failure to agree on a long-term deficit-reduction plan.

Apple to dole out $100 billion to shareholders over 2 years

NEW YORK - Apple is opening the doors to its bank vault, saying it will distribute $100 billion in cash to its shareholders over two years. At the same time, the company said it expects sales for the current quarter to fall from the year before, which would be the first decline in many years.

Apple Inc. on Tuesday said it will buy back $60 billion in shares - the largest buyback authorization in history. It is also raising its dividend by 15 percent.

Investors have been clamoring for Apple to give them access to its cash hoard, which ended March at an unprecedented $145 billion. Apple's tight grip on its cash has been blamed for the steep decline in its stock price over the winter.

US seeks voluntary limits on in-car touch screens

DETROIT - The government is asking automakers to put stronger limits on drivers' interaction with in-car touch screens in an effort to curb distracted driving.

U.S. traffic-safety regulators unveiled guidelines Tuesday that would restrict the amount of time it takes to perform both simple and complex functions on a car's entertainment and navigation systems.

Regulators also want to ban manual text entry and display of websites, social media, books and other text distractions while the car is moving.

Gold-medal gymnast to help promote new McDonald's item

McDonald's Corp. has hired 17-year-old Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas to help promote its newest item - the egg-white breakfast sandwich.

The world's largest restaurant chain by sales has tapped Douglas, who won the women's gymnastics all-around gold and helped the U.S. squad win the team event in London last year, as it attempts to attract diners with healthier items.

The Associated Press