Japan's transport minister says the government is poised to allow Japanese carriers to resume flying the Boeing 787 once they complete repairs to problematic lithium ion batteries.

Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta says in a statement on the ministry's website that the approval could come as early as Friday night following an expected official safety order from U.S. federal regulators.

The 50 of the jets in service worldwide were grounded in mid-January following a battery fire on a 787 Dreamliner and a smoking battery that led to an emergency landing by another 787 in Japan.

All Nippon Airways, which has 17 Dreamliners in its fleet, and JAL, with seven, have had to cancel hundreds of flights over the problems.