Aviation News, Headlines & Alerts
Category: <span>Lithium Ion battery</span>

Pinging for Egyptair MS 804 as the Clock Runs Out

When a plane goes down in the ocean, the black boxes aboard have enough juice to ping for thirty days. The pingers on flight data recorders AKA “black boxes” last a minimum of 30 days. After 30 days, the devices are still active, but the sound on which searchers hone is expected to die out. The pinger is located by a “pinger locater,” a device that listens for the sound of the black box. It is towed within the search area but it’s listening radius is usually around 2 miles. The pinger’s sound is not very powerful, and the pinger is towed at 3 knots.

After AirFrance 447, legislation was underway to increase the battery life to 90 days. The technology exists, but because implementation of that transition has been slow, EgyptAir MS 804’s pinger battery is expected to expire at around 30 days.

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Should Lithium Battery Transport be banned on Passenger jets?

The conversation about forbidding the transport of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft is based on fire risk these batteries present. Current fire control systems cannot suppress lithium metal battery fires, but the fears are that banning the transport will result in driving the shipment “underground.” What do you think should be done?

Read More
ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel Proposes Ban on Lithium Batteries in Passenger Planes


WASHINGTON – 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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Anniversary of Bhoja Air Crash

The anniversary of a plane crash is always a sad day;

It is a day few people recall if they didn’t lose someone;

It is a day remembered by children as the moment they found themselves orphaned–and mothers and fathers who found themselves without a child; and husbands and wives who found themselves widowed.

It is a day with consequences that reverberate through the lives of those affected like ripples in a pond–except that ripples in a pond eventually come to rest, and the victims of a crash will be victims forever.

We remember the day Bhoja Air crashed. It was en route from Karachi to Islamabad, with 121 passengers and 6 crew.

The owner of Bhoja Air remembers too, and the FIA is not likely to let him forget:

FIA Sindh Director Muazzam Jah Ansari said Bhoja Air owner Farooq Bhoja was taken into custody for questioning during the Bhoja Air plane crash and was released on Sunday after initial investigation.

Farooq Bhoja was not arrested. His office was raided and the FIA seized official documents.

Press Release Below:

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FAA Approves Boeing 787 Battery System Design

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system. The changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level.

Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.

“Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

To assure proper installation of the new design, the FAA will closely monitor modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The FAA will stage teams of inspectors at the modification locations. Any return to service of the modified 787 will only take place after the FAA accepts the work.
As the certifying authority, the FAA will continue to support other authorities around the world as they finalize their own acceptance procedures.

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April 8, 2013
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board today released the final agenda including the participants’ names, affiliations, and biographies for the forum on lithium ion batteries in transportation.

The forum, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, April 11-12, starts at 9 am and will be held in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center in Washington, DC.

Representatives from government, industry and academia will serve as panelists during the forum and will address issues related to lithium ion battery technology and how it is used across transportation modes.

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The National Transportation Safety Board announced today that its two-day investigative hearing into the Jan. 7 battery fire aboard a Boeing 787 at Boston’s Logan Airport will be held on April 23-24 at the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

The hearing will focus on issues relating to the design, testing and certification of the battery system.

Lot Airlines Temporary Boeing Fix

Pending solutions for the incidents involving the aircraft’s lithium-ion battery produced by Tokyo- based GS Yuasa Corp, while waiting for Boeing 787’s to come out of hibernation, from April 12 to the end of May Lot Airlines is leasing an Airbus SAS from Portugal’s Hi Fly. The A330 flies 18 in business and 288 in coach.

Lot purchased 8 eight 787s, and has received two, one of which is Warsaw, and the other stranded in Chicago.

If Dreamliner operations remain suspended beyond that date, the lease can be extended

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NTSB ANNOUNCES Lithium Ion Batteries in Transportation FORUM

Today the National Transportation Safety Board announced that its upcoming forum, “Lithium Ion Batteries in Transportation,” will be held on April 11-12. The NTSB also released a preliminary agenda for the event.

The forum will focus on three areas:

  • 1) the design, development and performance of lithium ion batteries;
  • 2) regulations and standards related to manufacturing, use and transport of the batteries; and
  • 3) the application and safety aspects of lithium battery technology in various transportation modes.


Thursday, April 11 (9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

Panel 1: Design, Development, and Use of Lithium Ion Battery Technology

Objective: This panel will discuss the design, development, and performance of lithium ion batteries. The design and development discussion will focus on battery configurations; advantages and disadvantages based on chemistry, power stability, and energy density; physical and electrical protective devices; manufacturing procedures and best practices; and quality assurance. The battery performance discussion will explore failure modes and other performance issues. Discussions will also include the range of lithium ion battery manufacturing processes.

Panel 2: Regulations & Standards for Lithium Ion Batteries

Objective: This panel will provide an overview and update of domestic and international regulatory requirements and standards associated with manufacturing, consumer and industry use, and transportation of lithium ion battery cargo. Topics will also include current and future lithium ion battery safety challenges for regulatory agencies and standard setting organizations.

Friday, April 12 (9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Panel 3: Lithium Ion Battery Applications & Safety in Transportation

Objective: This panel will discuss the application and safety aspects of lithium battery technology in various transportation modes. The integration of the technology into existing designs will be explored including design standards, advantages and risks associated with use, reliability and failure; and what future use is planned. The panel will also discuss safety management considerations and strategies for first responders.

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Dreamliner Battery Box Solution

An upgrade to the battery has been reported, and Boeing is adding a fire-resistant battery box to contain the cells, and insulation around that. The box is to vent smoke outside, and will be made of titanium.

Boeing is still planning on using lithium-ion cells instead of switching to nickel cadmium. The batteries face a series of twenty lab tests before test flights will be permitted.

The two approved test flights include one for the new battery, and one for the new box.

Each Dreamliner has one lithium-ion battery to power cockpit systems, and one to power on-ground functions that used to be hydraulic.

The FAA statement is below:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today approved the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system, after thoroughly reviewing Boeing’s proposed modifications and the company’s plan to demonstrate that the system will meet FAA requirements. The certification plan is the first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight and requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions.

“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

The battery system improvements include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system.

“We are confident the plan we approved today includes all the right elements to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery system redesign,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “Today’s announcement starts a testing process which will demonstrate whether the proposed fix will work as designed.”

The certification plan requires a series of tests which must be passed before the 787 could return to service. The plan establishes specific pass/fail criteria, defines the parameters that should be measured, prescribes the test methodology and specifies the test setup and design. FAA engineers will be present for the testing and will be closely involved in all aspects of the process.

The FAA also has approved limited test flights for two aircraft. These aircraft will have the prototype versions of the new containment system installed. The purpose of the flight tests will be to validate the aircraft instrumentation for the battery and battery enclosure testing in addition to product improvements for other systems.

The FAA will approve the redesign only if the company successfully completes all required tests and analysis to demonstrate the new design complies with FAA requirements. The FAA’s January 16, 2013 airworthiness directive, which required operators to temporarily cease 787 operations, is still in effect, and the FAA is continuing its comprehensive review of the 787 design, production and manufacturing process.

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Boeing Test Flights Cleared

The ten test flights Boeing is being allowed to schedule will be designed to provide more data for inspectors who are still investigating the failed 787 batteries. The NTSB is planning to release a report around March 7.

First there was a flight to move a 787 from Texas to Washington State, then the Federal Aviation Administration said it would permit the test flights, if flown under stringent rules, in order to to monitor the batteries in while in use.

The NTSB determined after an exhaustive examination of the JAL lithium-ion battery that the majority of evidence from the flight data recorder and both thermal and mechanical damage pointed to an initiating event in a single cell, out of eight. That cell showed multiple signs of short circuiting, leading to the thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells. The temperature inside the battery case exceeded 500 degrees Fahrenheit, charring the battery components.

Currently the assumption is that the potential causes of the initial short circuit include battery charging, battery construction and design, and manufacturing defects.

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Boeing Responds to the NTSB 787 Battery Update

And This is what Boeing Has to Say

SEATTLE, Feb. 7, 2013 / — Boeing (NYSE: BA) welcomes the progress reported by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the 787 investigation, including that the NTSB has identified the origin of the event as having been within the battery. The findings discussed today demonstrated a narrowing of the focus of the investigation to short circuiting observed in the battery, while providing the public with a better understanding of the nature of the investigation.

The company remains committed to working with the NTSB, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our customers to maintain the high level of safety the traveling public expects and that the air transport system has delivered. We continue to provide support to the investigative groups as they work to further understand these events and as we work to prevent such incidents in the future. The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

The 787 was certified following a rigorous Boeing test program and an extensive certification program conducted by the FAA. We provided testing and analysis in support of the requirements of the FAA special conditions associated with the use of lithium ion batteries. We are working collaboratively to address questions about our testing and compliance with certification standards, and we will not hesitate to make changes that lead to improved testing processes and products.

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Dreamliners Still Grounded for Batteries

No one doubts the Boeing Dreamliner problems need to be solved.

Whether it is lithium-ion batteries thermal runaway or the entire system dealing with those batteries, a solution must be found.

Will the battery be changed? Will the system be changed? It remains to be seen. Grounding the fleet has been expensive, but less expensive than the cost of human lives should they fail again.

Have these volatile batteries actually been controlled? Were the batteries in question flawed, or overcharged? When we hear that ten batteries were replaced for low charges, is it possible that the low charges were the correct standard?

Has anyone asked if someone tampered with the affected batteries to raise the charge?

Boeing has asked for the FAA to conduct test flights.

Beginning test flights before the battery type has been replaced or the system replaced may be precipitous. Is adapting the system going to prevent future problems?

Japan has released a report:

See Report

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Lithium Ion Batteries Remain a Point of Concern

Both Airbus and Boeing say the designs for their litium-ion systems are safe, in spite of known risk of flames, explosion, smoke and leakage.

Those are some pretty hefty “known” risks.

Now ANA says that prior to the fire, it had replaced batteries on its 787 aircraft some 10 times because of low charges.

Now the Kanto Aircraft Instrument Co whose system monitors voltage, charging and temperature of lithium-ion batteries is also under scrutiny, in addition to GS Yuasa who makes the batteries.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a chemical analysis of internal short circuiting and thermal damage of the battery.


January 29, 2013
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board today released the sixth update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The examination of the damaged battery continues. The work has transitioned from macroscopic to microscopic examinations and into chemical and elemental analysis of the areas of internal short circuiting and thermal damage.

Examination and testing of the exemplar battery from the JAL airplane has begun at the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center laboratories. Detailed examinations will be looking for signs of in-service damage and manufacturing defects. The test program will include mechanical and electrical tests to determine the performance of the battery, and to uncover signs of any degradation in expected performance.

As a party contributing to the investigation, Boeing is providing pertinent fleet information, which will help investigators understand the operating history of lithium-ion batteries on those airplanes.

An investigative group continued to interpret data from the two digital flight data recorders on the aircraft, and is examining recorded signals to determine if they might yield additional information about the performance of the battery and the operation of the charging system.

In addition to the activities in Washington, investigators are continuing their work in Seattle and Japan.

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Will Boeing Switch to Electrical Inquiry?

Here’s what is bothering me:

It’s no secret how planes are tested before they are released, to the very extreme so how did this electrical problem issue by the testing? Is my favorite plane manufacturer taking short cuts in quality control?

The Japan Boeing 787 Dreamliner was delivered on Dec. 20 and had only flown 169 flight hours and 22 flights when one of its two lithium ion batteries caught fire.

Is the investigation going to turn from the battery to the problem referenced by the whistleblower?

Battery found not at fault by Safety Investigators in JAPAN

But is GS Yuasa really off the hook?

Battery questions:

  • If the battery was too hot, why didn’t it burn up on hours 1-169?
  • If the battery failed, what caused it to catch fire on the 22nd flight? Why that flight?
  • If the battery (which is a backup system replacing post flight hydraulics) only operates on the ground and is only engaged on the ground, why are flights grounded? If the battery is only at use on the ground, is it an actual flight risk or a post-flight risk?
  • Is the solution going to be simply going to the other type of lithium ion battery (nickel metal-hydride technology), or will components or the whole system be replaced?
  • Was this simply a GS Yuasa quality control failure, a batch of bad batteries manufactured by GS Yuasa of Japan in September 2012?

The entire 787 fleet is grounded. Replacing the battery system might be a “quick” fix but certification could last a year.

A large format battery can generate heat faster than it dissipates.

Is venting the battery and monitoring the vents a viable temporary solution that could keep the planes in the air until a system alternative has been certified within the year?

The current batteries are “prone to spontaneous combustion due to ‘organic electrolyte which makes it volatile and flammable.'”

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More Battery Buzz Builds for Boeing

  • Since U.S. and Japanese authorities have ordered the grounding of Boeing 787s, All Nippon Airways is canceling 177 flights beginning Wednesday. Considering that weather is expected to be grounding European flights anyway, the grounding could not have come at a better time. Plus, any time the precautions come before the fatalities, it is a good day.
  • GS Yuasa Corporation in Kyoto makes the “notorious” lithium-ion battery in the Japan Airlines Co. (9201) plane and an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways Co. (9202) jet. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will be running battery tests. An NTSB group of four officials and two Japan transport officials will be on hand. To be the fly on the wall of that test!
  • The ANA pilot received 3 warnings that the battery was overheating. This suggests the safety components were working.
  • Investigators were sent to the U.K. to investigate a valve actuator maker for the 787. The company was not identified. If a problem is found, the name of the company will soon be public knowledge
  • The technology has a damning history: Securaplane’s Tucson, Arizona-based unit made the battery charger on the jet that was in the Boston fire on Jan. 7. Whistleblower Michael Leon was employed at Securaplane when he wrote a report (2006) saying that the battery technology was risky and that substitute battery technology should be used on the 787, after which a battery test went wrong and burnt down a Securaplane building. Leon refused to ship a battery assembly to Boeing for the 787 and that battery later malfunctioned in a prototype. Why haven’t we heard this story before? Was the system Michael Leon objected to the same one that is causing problems now?
  • The Seattle Times reported that hot chemicals sprayed out of the battery on the 787 Dreamliner that made an emergency landing in Japan, leaving a gooey dark residue—a different malfunction from the incident in Boston. The plot thickens. More than one problem? Which is the onetime event, and which is the chronic issue (if at all)? That is the factor that will be significant for Boeing and the future of the Dreamliner.
  • Boeing stands by the 4 battery circuits, because they stopped the overheating before a fire started.

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Questioning Compliance and Public “solutions”

I’m not an expert but there are aspects to this Lithium Ion battery story which concern me. I completely understand why these planes are grounded as this battery situation is examined, and applaud that solutions are being considered even as I write this. I cannot help but wonder what the actual time-frame will be. When I start wondering, I start asking —and quoting—the experts available to me and my company.

The FAA maintains a database of Service Difficulty Reports (SDR’s) for US Registered airlines. There’s a long ignominious history recorded of fire and smoke events previously examined by the FAA in the unique category that the fires are hidden, i.e. in locations inaccessible or unknown to crew: mundane items the public never heard of–such as the built-in Halon 1301 trash receptacle extinguishers that failed to extinguish trash fires– were found and fixed or replaced. Battery ground cables have been known to arc (Northwest Airlines DC-10, March 1988), insulation blankets to burn (April of 1988, a Continental 737), overheated fluorescent light ballasts smoked (115 incidents way back in 1991).

Here’s an example of why I am concerned:
At least twenty-nine fires have been identified as being ignited by electrical short circuits in/from flammable acoustic blankets. One of these flammable circuit types that was identified back in a 1991 report is permitted in Boeing products until 2016.

When the solution to the battery problem is determined, what time frame will the Airworthiness Directives require? Will compliance be to exchange, replace or modify the battery system or to put it off till later? ADs are issued with overly generous compliance times in years.

Will a temporary measure be taken along with a compliance date set years from now?

Regardless of whether the bottom-line business of aviation is wrestling with the expense of safety, a dicey potential fire starter component is a problem that should be addressed.

If the Dreamliner is going to be in service for the next 40 years, an issue causing a component to cause a fire should not be covered with 40 years of bandaids. It should be fixed now.

Boeing Investigation Update from Japan

During an early inspection of the 787 in Takamatsu by Japanese officials, the battery’s electrolyte had leaked from the lithium-ion battery.

The charred insides of the battery show the battery received voltage in excess of its design limits.

In October 2011, the FAA issued an emergency order requiring lithium ion batteries in 42 Cessna Citation CJ4 to be replaced with nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries, after a connection with a ground power station led to overcharging and a fire.

Wait…was this human error and not battery error? Or a combination of both?

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