Inadequate design work by Boeing, shoddy standards by Japanese battery maker Yuasa Corp, and the corporate capture of the FAA in its failure to properly certify a critical part of the Dreamliner 787, this NTSB investigation has it all.
But you won’t get it all unless you read the full report.
While Boeing and the FAA haven’t yet responded to the National Transportation Safety Board findings and supporting documentation concerning the battery fire/non-fire that burned away in the aft belly of a Japan Air Lines 787 at Boston’s Logan airport on 7 January 2013, the seriousness of what happened doesn’t readily fit into 300 words on a small silver screen.
So, on this screen, this is why you should read the full final report into the first of two Dreamliner battery fire/melt downs almost three years ago that resulted in the extended grounding of all Boeing 787 services.
You will get some very ugly insights into what happens when safety regulators go buddy/buddy with big business and overlook their responsibility to the airlines, and us!
If you read further, you will also discover that there is no convincing evidence that Boeing or the FAA actually care what you think either. They got away with it, although not without a cash price in the case of the former, which devised a fire box which now contains all such batteries and provides a venting system to prevent such a failure filling the cabin with noxious fumes should one occur in flight in the future.
(The JAL 787 that had the fume/combustion/what fire? event at Boston had just competed a long flight from Tokyo Narita, following a route that was remote from airports and their emergency services for prolonged periods.)
Boeing redesigned the battery to include more protection around the individual lithium ion containing cells to reduce the risks of runaway overheating, as well as putting it inside a steel case to prevent any fire from spreading.
However the NTSB testing found that despite these measures, the large lithium-ion batteries used in the Dreamliners were vulnerable to failure.
Cells may overheat when large amounts of power are being drawn and better protections should be installed, the NTSB said. In 2013 Boeing insisted that it had drawn a line under the risks with the new fire boxes, and that was it, all done, all finished, nothing more to do.
Will it change its mind, or just ignore the NTSB? Time will tell.
As previously reported, Japanese investigators reached similar conclusions as the NTSB after inquiring into the other high profile 787 battery incident that occurred during the ANA flight that forced an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport on 16 January 2013.
The Japan Transport Safety Board found on 25 September that an internal short-circuit “was probably” at fault though it was impossible to say what prompted it.