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Boeing 787 Investigation Results Coming Soon: NTSB Chairman

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The NTSB Chairman said result of the Boeing 787 investigation is weeks away. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) filed an application for a test flight with the FAA, to determine the performance of the  lithium ion battery of its Boeing 787 under normal operating conditions.

Boeing 787 Investigation Results Coming Soon: NTSB Chairman

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman, Deborah Hersman, said the agency might release the results of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner investigation in the weeks ahead.

“We’re probably weeks away from being able to tell people what happened and what needs to be changed,” stated Hersman during a press conference on Wednesday. According to her, investigators were “proceeding with a lot of care” in determining the actual cause of the fire in the lithium-ion battery of the Japan Airlines 787 parked at the Boston Logan International airport last January 7.

The NTSB chief cited that the most significant issues found by investigators were short circuits and thermal runaway, and uncontrolled chemical reaction that triggers rising temperatures. Hersman said, “These factors are not what we expected to see in a brand-new battery,” she said.

In addition, the NTSB also said, “it doesn’t want to categorically rule out the use of lithium-ion batteries to power aircraft systems, but manufacturers need to build in safeguards that protect battery fires.”

On the other hand, The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) filed an application for a test flight of the Boeing 787 with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in order for the company’s engineers to evaluate the performance of the lithium batteries of the aircraft under normal operating condition. All of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircrafts were grounded worldwide over safety concerns.

Marc Birtel, spokesperson for The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) said, “Boeing has submitted an application to conduct 787 test flights and it is currently under evaluation by the FAA.”

Analysts at the Buckingham Research Group believe that the NTSB and The Boeing Company are working together to find a solution that would ensure any thermal runaway or fire is contained, and not the replacement of lithium-ion batteries, because replacing the batteries requires design and certification efforts that would take 12-15 months.

Buckinghan Research Group analysts, Richard Safran and Angela Lieh suggested that a proposed solution for the battery problems of the Boeing 787 is ready based on the comments of the NTSB and the request of the aircraft maker for flight test.

According to them, the possible remedy may include procedural and or software changes, new battery components, or a redesign of the bay that holds the battery. Safran and Lieh said, “While we believe that BA may consider a new battery at some time in the future, we think the focus is a solution that ensures containment of a runaway battery and lifts the grounding order.”

The analysts speculated that grounding order maybe lifted by the end of March. They reiterated their buy rating for shares of The Boeing Company.

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