Officials Hone In On 787 Battery Conundrum

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners January 16 after several reports of battery malfunctions.

More than three weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its decision to temporarily ground all 787 Dreamliners, Boeing welcomed a new report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the 787 investigation.

The NTSB has identified the cause of overheated and smoking 787 batteries. The malfunctions were likely caused by short circuiting, according to the report.

The Boeing Company released the following statement on Thursday:

The company remains committed to working with the NTSB, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our customers to maintain the high level of safety the traveling public expects and that the air transport system has delivered. We continue to provide support to the investigative groups as they work to further understand these events and as we work to prevent such incidents in the future. The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

The 787 was certified following a rigorous Boeing test program and an extensive certification program conducted by the FAA. We provided testing and analysis in support of the requirements of the FAA special conditions associated with the use of lithium ion batteries. We are working collaboratively to address questions about our testing and compliance with certification standards, and we will not hesitate to make changes that lead to improved testing processes and products.

The FAA also released a statement Thursday regarding the investigation:

“DOT is focused on the safety of the traveling public.  From day one, we have said that the comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 and the root cause analysis of the two battery incidents would be a data-driven process.  Based on what information our experts find, the FAA will take any action necessary to further ensure safety.  We must finish this work before reaching conclusions about what changes or improvements the FAA should make going forward.  The leading experts in this field are working to understand what happened and how we can safely get these aircraft back into service.

Last month, we announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems including the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly.  Since then, the FAA's team of technical experts has been working around the clock to understand what happened and how best to prevent these issues from recurring. As part of this effort, the FAA is looking at both the certification process and specifically at the required tests and design of the aircraft’s lithium ion battery.  The FAA invited the NTSB to observe this FAA-led process.  

The FAA is also lending our technical experts to support the NTSB's investigation into the probable cause of the battery incidents.  The agency will also evaluate information from the investigations of these incidents and will take action as appropriate. 

As the agency said last month, the FAA is focused on the review and activities to understand the root cause.  Once the review is complete, the FAA will make any analysis and conclusions public.” 





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