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In what could be a body blow to Boeing’s reputation and sales of its flagship airliner, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today reported that their investigation into the cause of a battery fire onboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan airport is far from complete. (A PDF of the NTSB’s report is here.)
Although the lithium-ion batteries are the focus of attention, it has yet to be established if the batteries themselves are at fault, or whether the problem lies with one of the many subsystems that monitor and charge the batteries.
In its coverage of today’s NTSB briefing, the New York Times quoted an agency official as follows: “There are multiple systems to prevent against a battery event like this. Those systems did not work as intended. We need to understand why.” And understanding why is just the first step in developing a fix for the problem and getting the grounded Dreamliners back in the air.
Separately, the Seattle Times is reporting that a 787 battery undergoing safety testing in 2006 exploded in a lab run by Securaplane Technologies of Tucson, Arizona. The building housing the lab burned to the ground.
The ever-growing list of 787-related incidents and responses now includes the following:
About the 787 Dreamliner
The Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airliner, featuring such cutting-edge technology as lithium-ion batteries and a composite-plastic body.
The first 787 was received by ANA in September 2011, and since then about 35 787s have been delivered to eight airline customers, including United.
As of last month, the company had taken orders for 844 Dreamliners, and Boeing hopes to sell as many as 5,000 during the lifetime of the plane.
Reader Reality Check
Are the 787’s problems of concern to you? Would you fly on one anyway?
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