Page modified January 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM
Japan Airlines reports smoking battery on parked Boeing 787
The incident on a 787 in Tokyo appears to have been limited by the containment box protection system that Boeing engineers designed to ensure the safety of the plane in case of any battery malfunction.
By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Almost exactly a year after a smoking lithium ion battery on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 Dreamliner grounded the jet for more than three months, the same airline reported a smoking battery in a parked 787 Tuesday.
However, the incident appears to have been limited by the containment box protection system that Boeing engineers designed to ensure the safety of the plane in case of any battery malfunction.
JAL reported that while the 787 was on the ground in Tokyo preparing for departure to Bangkok, with no passengers on board, a maintenance technician “in the cockpit found that the white smoke was wafting outside of the window and that the message which indicated the possibility of main battery system failure was displayed on the cockpit display.”
“The inspection of the battery case inside the battery enclosure revealed that the safety pressure relief valve ... of one cell of the eight cells opened,” JAL said. The relief valve is supposed to open if pressure inside a cell rises. When the one valve opened, it dispersed liquid inside the plane’s main battery container, JAL said.
JAL substituted another 787 and the flight departed almost on time.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said, “We are aware of the 787 issue that occurred Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell.”
“The improvements made to the 787 battery system last year appear to have worked as designed,” he added. “We sincerely regret any impact caused to Japan Airlines and are working with them to return this airplane to service.”
The cause is under investigation, and JAL will share details with Japan’s transportation ministry and Boeing, said Seiji Takaramoto, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carrier.
Lithium-ion batteries on Dreamliners failed twice in January 2013, spurring regulators to order the planes parked worldwide while Chicago-based Boeing crafted a fix.
Boeing’s solution was to encase each of the 787’s two main lithium ion batteries in a hefty steel box with titanium venting tubes that would carry any smoke, flames or flammable vapors outside the airplane.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for Dreamliner flights to resume three months later.
Boeing stock slipped in late morning trading in New York on news of Tuesday’s 787 incident. It was down 86 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $139.84 at midday in New York.
This report includes information from Bloomberg News
Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org