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The 787 Dreamliner's charred battery  (Source:
The battery will be sent to Tokyo for a deeper inspection

An opening investigation into the safety of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is complete, and with the focus primarily on the 787's battery, more safety checks are on the way.

Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Japanese officials have completed their initial investigation into the 787's battery problems in recent weeks. A battery that was involved in this week's incident will be sent to Tokyo for further investigation.

A Japanese safety official mentioned that the battery associated with this week's incident was charred, and that excessive electricity could be the reason it overheated. The battery looked like a burnt metal box that had liquid spilling from the inside.

Boeing uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for its main electrical system. GS Yuasa Corp., which makes the lithium-ion batteries used in the 787s, said the problem could be the battery, the power source or the electronics system.

Just this week, a 787, which was an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight to Tokyo, had an issue with its main battery only 15 minutes into a 90-minute flight. After 40 minutes, a burning smell made its way into the cabin and cockpit, and the plane made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport on the southern island of Shikoku. This issue caused all 787s to be grounded in Japan, the U.S. and India until a safety investigation was conducted and the problems were corrected.

Unfortunately, this incident isn't where the 787's problems started. Early last week, a 787 operated by Japan Airlines had experienced an electrical fire at Boston's Logan International Airport after coming in from Tokyo. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a battery in the auxiliary power unit suffered severe fire damage.

Just one day later, a Boeing 787 operated by the same airline at the same airport suffered a fuel leak. The fuel leak was discovered at 12:25 p.m. ET right after the 787 left the gate for a trip to Tokyo. The flight was cancelled, and the plane was towed back to the gate where passengers were instructed to exit and stay in the airport. No one was injured.

As it turns out, about 40 gallons of fuel had leaked from the 787. The plane ended up being delayed four hours before leaving for Tokyo.

On Friday of last week, two more issues occurred.
It was discovered that a 787 Dreamliner with All Nippon Airways (ANA), which had arrived at the Matsuyama airport in western Japan from Tokyo on Friday, developed a web-like crack in the cockpit window. The pilot found it about 70 minutes into the flight, but no one was injured. In a separate incident on Friday, but also with ANA, another 787 Dreamliner had an oil leak after traveling to the Miyazaki airport in southern Japan. It is unclear how much oil had leaked.

Source: Reuters

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RE: Excessive Electricity
By kleinma on 1/18/2013 1:47:45 PM , Rating: 2
That the amount of electricity is excessive to what the battery casing can handle, resulting in overheating and meltdown?

RE: Excessive Electricity
By othercents on 1/18/2013 2:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
Excessive power being drawn from the battery or excessive power being charged back (overcharging). My understanding on how these batteries are built is that they are supposed to self regulate the electrical output, however there are also systems in place to keep airplane from wanting too much power. I suspect that the pilot decided to start all 4 engines at the same time causing excessive power draw.

I don't see why they are using lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery since they don't have as many issues with overheating as the Lithium ions.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By SublimeSimplicity on 1/18/2013 2:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would guess that the 787 has been in design for longer than LiFePO4 cells have been available or their benefits in these types of applications fully understood.

I'm sure we'll see them switching to them to solve the problem though.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By DennisB on 1/18/2013 2:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that the pilot decided to start all 4 engines at the same time causing excessive power draw.

Pilots always work down their check & procedure lists even in an emergency. After all their lives depend on correct actions.
I doubt anyone would just decide to do something not in the manual outside an emergency.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By GulWestfale on 1/18/2013 9:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
the 787 has two engines, not four; and normal procedure is to switch them on one by one.

the FAA has now grounded all 787s, and i just read on a news site that boeing has suspended construction of new planes until a solution can be found.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By Keeir on 1/20/2013 5:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt anyone would just decide to do something not in the manual outside an emergency.


Flight Safety is an agreement between the OEMs, the FAA, and the Airlines. Its possible the "manual" is never followed entirely. Or, as the case can often be, an airline feels a change in a manual is entirely upto them. Even for hard structural issues, let alone things such as on/off issues.

Southwest did it.
Ansett Airlines did it.
China Airlines did it.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By drycrust3 on 1/21/2013 1:24:24 AM , Rating: 2
Not being an airline pilot, as I see it if something goes wrong and the pilot follows the manual and the plane crashes, then the pilot is less likely to have ALL the blame dumped on him than if he didn't follow the manual.
If he (or she) doesn't follow the manual and the plane crashes, then the pilot (or their family) have an almost impossible task of trying to prove whatever decisions they did make were better than the ones in the manual.
Conversely, if they do follow the manual, and the plane crashes, the crash investigators are more likely to put at least some of the blame on the aircraft or the manual.
So, as I see it, if the pilot believes the chances of a crash are almost certain no matter what he does, then he should follow the manual so the plane and the manual and not himself gets blamed.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By Keeir on 1/21/2013 12:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
Not being an airline pilot

There are hundreds upon hundreds of things to know about an aircraft. There is a gigantic list of this to do in the "Standard Procedures".

Your optomism that a Pilot/Airline never tries to use a shortcut to increase on-time percentage, or get home quicker, or just "this it the 10,000 time I done this, lets get it over" mentality is amazing.

At this point, its still entirely possible for the 787 that Operators are doing something not in the "manual" for the 787. It may have been in the manual for early planes, or just not specifically outlawed.

RE: Excessive Electricity
By sixteenornumber on 1/19/2013 3:23:10 AM , Rating: 4
Li-ion batteries have a much greater energy density but LiFe batteries have nearly 2 times the charge cycle durability that li-ion does.

Because of its low cost, non-toxicity, the high abundance of iron, its excellent thermal stability, safety characteristics, electrochemical performance, and specific capacity (170 mA·h/g, or 610 C/g) it gained some market acceptance

RE: Excessive Electricity
By Samus on 1/19/2013 12:11:43 PM , Rating: 2

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