FAA Issues Battery Statement. And Me Too…Attention, Boeing…

Thursday, January 17, 2013
By George Hatcher

My experts are telling me that it looks like Boeing is all alone on these 787 battery fires. The FAA issued 31 ‘Special Conditions’ (you can read that to mean that the FAA gave Boeing a whole lot of slack) but this battery problem is not getting a free ride, or any favors.

SAFETY is the top priority. Make no mistake. The sooner the Dreamliner and its battery is grounded, the sooner the fix will be found and it will be safe to fly again. Well. While you’re at it fixing the battery problem, get that team of pilots who fly this thing to go over all areas of failure thus far, including the engines. Look at ALL of these…

  • Nov 6 2010: Boeing flight Texas: electrical problems in the aft electronics bay which disabled the primary flight displays in the cockpit.
  • Nov 6 2011: ANA Flight Okayama forced to deploy the landing gear using the alternate extension backup system, after an active warning light, which said that the wheels were not properly down.
  • July 28 2012: Boeing Flight Charleston: contained engine failure during a taxi test at Charleston International Airport PRE Delivery Taxi test. Debris fell from engine
  • Dec 4, 2012: United over Mississippi: “multiple messages” regarding flight-system errors, and diverted to New Orleans (KMSY). The problems occurred when one of the plane’s generators failed. Power was supplied to the aircraft with the five functioning generators.
  • Jan 7, 2013: JAL Boston: fire was discovered in a battery and electrical compartment of the aircraft.
  • Jan 8, 2013: JAL Boston: 40 gallons of fuel had spilled from one of its wing tanks at the gate. The plane was contacted before takeoff and it returned to the terminal without incident. Probably a case of overfilling the tank.
  • Jan 9, 2013: ANA Yamaguchi: Brake problems
  • Jan 16, 2013: ANA Takamatsu: instrument indications of smoke in the forward electrical compartment. No fire was found.

Boeing? Are you listening? I fly everywhere, all over the world but at the moment, I’m not comfortable getting on this great plane that I really want to love for future travel. I’m am confident you can do it, even if all of these wrinkles are going to mean you need to bring in the really big iron. We need all the finders and fixers on this! The world has places to go and things to do, and you’re holding their safety in the palm of your hand.

The Emergency Airworthiness Directive has been issued. Issued Jan 16, 2013
and here is their announcement:

As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 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. 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.

Last 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 787, 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.

See Directive:

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