Japan probe finds miswiring of Boeing 787 battery; news report says fix is near

  • Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:09 a.m., Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:12 a.m.

Japan’s Transport Ministry says a probe into the overheating of a lithium ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 found it was improperly wired.

The Transport Safety Board said in a report issued Wednesday that the battery of the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from doing damage.

Flickering of the plane’s tail and wing lights after it landed and the fact the main battery was switched off led the investigators to conclude there was an abnormal current traveling from the APU due to miswiring.

The agency said that more analysis was needed to determine what caused the main battery to overheat and emit the smoke that prompted the Jan. 16 emergency landing of the ANA domestic flight and the worldwide grounding of Boeing 787 jets, which are made in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. They said they are consulting Boeing about the issue.

The Federal Aviation Administration and aviation authorities in other countries grounded 787 fleets because of the ANA incident which followed a battery fire earlier in January in a 787 parked in Boston.

The 787, dubbed the Dreamliner by Boeing, is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium ion batteries, which are lighter weight, charge faster and contain more energy than conventional batteries similar in size. However, the batteries also are more prone to overheating and catching fire. Separately, Reuters new service reported that Boeing Co has found a way to fix the battery problems, a process which involves increasing the space between cells. Reuters quoted a person familiar with the U.S. company’s plans.

“The gaps between cells will be bigger. I think that’s why there was overheating,” said the person, who declined to be identified because the plans are private.


The Post and Courier contributed to this report.

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