FAA Grounds Boeing 787 in US

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) announced that as a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident on January 16 in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the Boeing 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.

The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. Boeing 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.

The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The AD is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.

Boeing 787 DreamlinerLast Friday, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification.

United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with six airplanes in service. When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive, it also alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.

Update:
All Japanese 787 operators followed the FAA advise and grounded their entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet as well.

Source: FAA
Image: Boeing

2 Responses

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    The Boeing 787 Dreamliners’ final assembly is in Everett, Washington, but much of the its individual components are manufactured by subcontractors in several countries like wings in Japan by Mitsubishi and carbon fiber airframes in Italy. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial airliner to deploy lithium ion batteries. The lithium ion batteries used in the 787 were not only chosen because they provide twice the capacity and half the weight of NiCad batteries, but also because of their ability to be charged back to full capacity faster than competing battery technologies.Japanese manufacturer GS Yuassa builds these lithium ion batteries.
    Boeing chose to use Lithium Cobalt Dioxide as the cathode in the lithium ion batteries on these planes.This cathode chemistry is far more energetic, but; therefore, far more potentially hazardous than the Lithium Iron Phosphate cathode chemistry that is employed in the Government Motors (GM) Volt. Boeing 787 Dreamliner design was finalized and accepted by the FAA before the Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry became acceptable. It would seem to me that if Boeing replaced the Lithium Cobalt Dioxide cathode batteries with the Lithium Iron Phosphate cathode batteries, the chance of potential fires would be greatly reduced.
    Lithium ion battery technology has been problematic and caused fires and explosions in less critical applications such as the AT&T broadband cabinets (Canadian made Avestor battery fires) and laptop computers. Three cargo plane crashes have been attributed to lithium ion battery fires in the cargo compartment including a UPS new Boeing 747 in 2010 in Dubai . What concerns more is the Aluminum wiring.
    If Boeing cannot come up with a reliable fix then the Airbus A350 will pose a serious threat to the backlog of Boeing 787 orders since Airbus chose to retain the pneumatic system in A350 instead of electrical system.

  2. Chris Hansen says:

    Government Motors, heh. :)

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