NTSB releases Japan Airlines 787 investigation 'interim' findings

NTSB releases Japan Airlines 787 investigation 'interim' findings

Credit: Glenn Farley / KING 5 News

A pried open case from the Japan Airlines 787 lithium ion battery at the National Transportation Safety Board.

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

The National Transportation Safety Board released an interim factual report and 499 pages of related documents in its ongoing investigation of the Japan Airlines 787 battery fire in Boston. Published reports indicate the documents did not include any information into the root cause of the fire.

The incident happened January 7 while the plane was parked at the gate at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

The plane landed just a few seconds after 10 a.m., according to the flight data recorder for JAL Flight 008. About 21 minutes later, cleaning personnel spotted the smoke. At approximately the same time, a maintenance manager in the cockpit saw that the auxiliary power unit (APU) had shut down.

A short time later, a mechanic opened the aft electronic equipment bay and found smoke and flames coming from the APU battery.

Nobody was on board the plane at the time and nobody was hurt.

The plane had just traveled from Japan.

The 787’s lithium-ion battery, which runs its main and APU batteries, has come under scrutiny after Japan Airlines incident as well as another incident involving an All Nippon Airways 787. All 50 787s in service were grounded worldwide.

Reuters, citing sources, reports the FAA is likely to allow Boeing to begin test flights within days, but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is calling for a thorough review before he gives the OK on the 787 fix.

The NTSB announced it will hold a forum in April to explore lithium-ion battery technology and transportation safety. A separate hearing in April will focus on the design and certification of the 787 battery system.

"The information developed through the upcoming forum and the hearing will help the NTSB and the entire transportation community better understand the risks and benefits associated with lithium batteries, and illuminate how manufacturers and regulators evaluate the safety of new technology," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said.

Boeing is losing an estimated $50 million per week while all 787s worldwide are grounded.

Bloomberg reports that the battery supplier tightened its quality checks after Boeing sought advice from companies like Ford, General Motors and General Electric, which also use the technology.

KING 5's Travis Pittman contributed to this report

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