The interim factual report of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed little progress in determining the cause of the battery fire on the Boeing 787 aircraft of Japan Airlines that was parked at the Logan International Airport in Boston last January.
The 48-page preliminary report of the safety board reiterated the initial findings of the agency that the fire was caused by a short circuit in one of the eight cells of the Boeing 787 battery, which was already revealed by NTSB chairperson Deborah Hersman in her previous statements to the media.
According to the NTSB, the 48-page report summarises the agency’s initial findings on the JAL battery fire investigation, which include details on how the maintenance personnel found the fire and how fire fighters responded and extinguished the fire, as well as findings from the examination of the battery. The report also include test results of related components, initial reports on the flight recorder data, a description of the 787 electrical power system certification plan, and a list of on-going and planned investigative activities.
In a statement, Hersman said, "With the grounding of the 787 fleet, concurrent international incident investigations, redesign and re-certification activities taking place simultaneously, it is essential to provide the aviation community, policy makers and the public with the factual information we are developing. Releasing an interim report provides a window into the significant investigative work that has been accomplished so far."
The NTSB scheduled a forum on mid-April to explore the technology behind the lithium-ion battery and transportation safety, and an investigative hearing on the design and certification of the Boeing 787 battery system on the latter part of the month.
According to Hersman, information that will be developed from the upcoming forum and hearing will help the NTSB and the entire transportation community to better understand the risks and benefits associated with lithium batteries. It will also shed light in how manufacturers and regulators will evaluate the safety of the new technology.
The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) last month proposed a long-term term solution to the problems of the Boeing 787 battery. Boeing CEO, Ray Conner led the presentation of the company’s plan to fix the batteries of the aircraft to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The aircraft manufacturer proposed an overhaul of the two types of lithium-ion batteries used in the Boeing 787 to ensure that the occurrence of short-circuiting that could lead to fire will be contained and prevent the fire from spreading from one battery cell to the other.