The Boeing 787: Hopefully Blue Skies Ahead!
April 30, 2013 >>
The FAA has now approved the redesign of the B.787 battery system after weeks of extensive testing.
The redesign keeps the battery design and chemistry essentially unchanged, but improves the separation between the cells. The redesign also improves the containment to prevent a fire from spreading, and provides venting to prevent toxic smoke from entering into the passenger cabin.
Safety investigators in the U.S. and Japan still do not know why the 787’s Lithium-ion batteries malfunctioned in two instances, but understand why these malfunctions triggered a “thermal runaway” chain reaction.
Boeing’s insistence on a “lithium-ion only” strategy will hopefully prove successful and not result in more costs and delays than already encountered.
A simpler and more commercially reassuring path would have been to launch an alternative certification program with a nickel-cadnium battery while continuing to pursue re-certification of an improved system based on the lithium-ion battery.
The Boeing company is sending teams of specialists worldwide to assist 787 operators with the task of installing the redesigned battery system.
The FAA will monitor all modifications to the aircraft in the U.S. registry, with teams of investigators at modification locations. All modified 787’s must be approved by the Agency before returning to service.
Commercial flights have started to resume as aircraft are modified. We expect that Boeing will be scrambling to incorporate the modifications on the assembly lines to minimize delays in the delivery of new aircraft.