NTSB provides second investigative update on Boeing 787 battery fire
17 January 2013
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a second update on its investigation into the January 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.
The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit on the aircraft was removed and transported back to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington on January 10, and is currently being examined by NTSB investigators.
In advance of that work, radiographic examinations of the incident battery and an exemplar battery were conducted last weekend at an independent test facility. The digital radiographs and computed tomography scans generated from this examination allowed the team to document the internal condition of the battery prior to disassembling it. In addition, investigators took possession of burned wire bundles, the APU battery charger, and several memory modules.
Lithium ion batteries are prone to thermal runaway, resulting in an uncontrolled rise in temperature within the battery compartment and eventual combustion.
On January 15, an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 was forced to land shortly after take-off due to battery problems. The airline subsequently grounded all 17 of its 787 fleet. JAL followed, grounding its fleet of seven Boeing 787s.
Since these incidents a number of airlines around the world have grounded their Boeing 787 fleets pending investigations and necessary remedial actions.
Boeing chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney said Boeing is committed to supporting the US Federal Avaition Administration and finding answers as quickly as possible.
"The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist," he said in a statement released on Wednesday (January 16). "We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service."