NTSB report releases new details in Boeing battery fire

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published March 7, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board report released today provided more details into a battery fire aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but the agency still hasn’t identified the fire’s cause.

The 48-page report covered the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston’s Logan International Airport and the initial investigation into its cause, offering new details about the airplane, the battery and its components. The report also included information from the Dreamliner’s flight recorder, which recorded the airplane landing at 10 a.m. and the auxiliary power unit battery’s failure at 10:21 a.m. Seconds later, the battery’s voltage decreased to zero then returned to 28 volts three times, and current began flowing out of the battery.

At the time of the incident, the battery was the only source powering the airplane. After it shut down, a mechanic opened the aft electronic equipment bay and found smoke and fire coming from the front of the battery case. No crew members or passengers were injured — they had disembarked — and firefighters responded.

The report is the latest release from the NTSB about its investigation into the fire. The agency released the fire’s origin in early February during a news conference, when it said it would also be releasing today’s report.

The agency’s investigation into the fire is continuing, and the NTSB still needs to examine CT scans of the battery’s cells; review design, engineering and production documentation; review audits conducted by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, among other testing and documentation.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman has also said the battery’s certification process needed to be reviewed.

“The assumptions used to certify a battery must be reconsidered,” she said.

Previous coverage

NTSB identifies Dreamliner fire’s origin

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