The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing's (NYSE:BA) plan to test and certify improvements to the company's troubled 787 Dreamliner, the company announced today.

Ray Conner, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the following in the company's statement.

Our proposal includes three layers of improvements. First, we've improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and to isolate any that do. Second, we've enhanced production, operating and testing processes. ... Third, in the unlikely event of a battery failure, we've introduced a new enclosure system that will keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane.

The certification plan is the starting point toward getting the 787 back in the air, the FAA said in its statement today, and it will require Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to show compliance with safety regulations.

"This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. "We won't allow the plane to return to service unless we're satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers."

The FAA's airworthiness directive issued on Jan. 16, 2013, ordered airlines to temporarily cease 787 operations is still in effect.