NTSB Provides Update on Boeing 787 Battery Fire Investigation

JAL 787

NTSB Investigator Mike Bauer inside the JAL Boeing 787 under investigation at Boston’s Logan Airport

The investigative work into the Jan. 7, 2013, fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston, is estimated to be completed by the end of March, the National Transportation Safety Board said today. The analytical and report writing phase of the investigation will follow the completion of the investigative activities. The final report is expected to be presented to the Board at a public meeting in Washington in the fall.

Members of the investigative team have been conducting work in the United States, Japan, France, and Taiwan. As the investigation has progressed, the NTSB has been working closely with Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Japan Transport Safety Bureau, the French BEA, and technical advisors from Japan and France.

Some of the investigative activities include:

– Completed disassembly and documentation of the individual cells of the incident battery.

– Completed examinations of exemplar batteries and battery cells for baseline reference and comparison to the incident battery. These examinations were conducted at NTSB and independent laboratories and included computed tomography scans, non-destructive soft short testing, and destructive evaluation and analysis of the batteries and cells.

– Awarded a contract to Underwriter’s Laboratories to assist the NTSB in defining and performing system-level tests of the Boeing 787 battery and charging system. The testing includes characterization of the thermal and electrochemical properties of the battery and oscillatory testing and is expected to be completed in February.

– Radiographic studies, which included over 200,000 CT scan images, were conducted to examine and document the internal configuration of individual cells from the incident and exemplar batteries.

– Conducted interviews with FAA, Boeing, Thales, and GS Yuasa personnel to review and document key steps, personnel roles and responsibilities, data and information flow, design artifacts, and approvals in the certification process for the battery and charging system.

– Evaluated and documented the process for the battery system safety assessment, including a review of the supporting tests and analysis performed and the safety analysis standards relevant for lithium-ion batteries.

– Conducted on-site survey of battery manufacturing facility in Japan including a review of design, engineering, and production documentation, as well as manufacturing processes, procedures, and training for personnel involved in the manufacture of the battery.

The date of the Board meeting at which the findings of the investigation will be released, including the probable cause of the battery fire, will be announced later in the year.

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