Dreamliner: NTSB concern over variation in Boeing’s battery data and what it has found
The credibility of Boeing’s pre-certification data on the 787 batteries is under fire, even as it proposes a temporary fix
There is a credible report just published in the US which says that the pre-certification data about the controversial lithium-ion batteries in the Dreamliner 787 on which the FAA concluded they were acceptable is significantly different from the results of tests on the same batteries now performed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The report’s veracity is supported by Boeing’s actions in making a somewhat conditional rebuttal of its content. It is a very strange response from Boeing, which seems to say that it continues to ‘learn’ about the batteries, rather than addressing the crux of the story, which is that there is a material difference between what Boeing told the FAA prior to certification, and what the safety investigator has found after certification.
This report coincides with a Wall Street Journal story urging a temporary fix be approved pending the identification and remediation of the causes of the battery incidents that lead to the Dreamliner grounding on 17 January.
The US ABC report says:
The pre-certification test results were found to be different than what happened during NTSB investigation, the source said. The agency, charged with investigating civil aviation accidents in the U.S., is expected to question whether the Boeing tests certified by the FAA were “robust enough.”
This morning, the chairwoman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, told reporters at a breakfast briefing that the initial investigation into the batteries found “multiple cells where we saw uncontrolled chemical chain reaction,” including short circuiting and thermal runaway, “and those features are not what we would have expected to see in a brand new battery, in a brand new airplane.
“We’re evaluating assessments that were made, whether or not those assessments were accurate, whether they were complied with and whether more needs to be done,” Hersman said. “We want to make sure the design is robust, that the oversight, the manufacturing process, that those are all adequate — and so that will be a part of our continuing investigation to determine the failure modes, what may have caused it and what can mitigate against that in the future.”
As reported earlier today, American media is putting the searchlight on the adequacy of the certification process that was applied to the Dreamliner, with crucial aspects of this being done by Boeing, for the FAA, not by the FAA.