Boeing to Propose Dreamliner Battery Fixes, Regulators Find Improper Wiring in ANA Aircraft

By Paul Riegler on 20 February 2013
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ANA's Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

ANA’s Dreamliner in Seattle for its launch flight

Japanese regulators announced they believe they found the piece of the puzzle that has kept Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft grounded since January 16.  The country’s Transport Ministry said that the battery had been improperly wired on Wednesday, as Boeing planned to begin the process of getting U.S.  regulators to approve temporary battery fixes that will allow the Dreamliner to fly on Wednesday.

Japan’s Transport Safety Board released a report that stated that the battery of the Dreamliner’s auxiliary power unit had been incorrectly connected to the main lithium-ion battery that overheated.  It further stated that a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from causing any damage.

The panel based this conclusion on the findings that the plane’s tail and wing lights flickered after landing and that the main battery was switched off. As a result, an abnormal current traveled from the APU due to the miswiring.  The announcement did not address what caused the main battery to overheat and emit smoke, however.  This incident, which occurred on January 16, necessitated an emergency landing after smoke entered the cabin .  ANA and Japan Airlines, the two largest operators of the Dreamliner, grounded their fleets for inspection.  Hours later, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Dreamliners operated by U.S. airlines, an order that only impacted United Airlines, the sole U.S. operator of the 787

On Friday, senior Boeing executives including Ray Conner, head of the aircraft maker’s commercial airplanes unit, are expected to meet with the FAA, including agency chief Michael Huerta, with the goal of getting the agency’s approval to put the planes back in the air.

Boeing will reportedly propose a ten-point package that includes installing a fireproof container around the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries, new venting system for fumes, and changes in the cockpit checklist.  Boeing also plans to develop a new battery design that will measure the temperature and any voltage changes in individual cells.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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