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Boeing 787: New Battery Safety Features To Be Ready In The Next Weeks…

The Boeing 787 battery problem enters a new phase after the company’s announcement about the safety improvements on the aircraft’s battery system:

Boeing Provides Details on 787 Battery Improvements – The Herald |

Boeing announced that a comprehensive set of improvements that will add several layers of additional safety features to the lithium-ion batteries on Dreamliner commercial jetliners are in production and could be ready for initial installation within the next few weeks. New enclosures for the aircraft batteries also are being built and will be installed in airplanes in the weeks ahead. These improvements, which continue to undergo extensive certification testing, will allow operators to resume commercial flights with their 787s as soon as testing is complete and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other international regulators grant their final approval. The improvements include enhanced production and operating processes, improved battery design features and a new battery enclosure. ”As soon as our testing is complete and we obtain regulatory approvals, we will be positioned to help our customers implement these changes and begin the process of getting their aircraft back in the air,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “Passengers can be assured that we have completed a thorough review of the battery system and made numerous improvements that we believe will make it a safer, more reliable battery system.” The system changes include changes to the battery itself, the battery’s charging unit and installation.

Boeing 787 Battery Improvements 1

More importantly flight tests are to validate battery instrumentation and improvements to other Dreamliner systems related to aircraft’s batteries:

787 test flights – more details – Aviation Week

Clarification from Boeing on what aircraft will do what in the initial phase of battery-related evaluations. As already noted, flight tests of the prototype revised battery containment system will be conducted using line number 86, an aircraft designated for LOT Polish Airlines. Aviation Week noted this same aircraft was previously used for ground tests of the battery system in mid-February. The modified battery system is also being (or may already have been) installed in test aircraft ZA005, though Boeing says this is to allow testing to resume of the planned General Electric GEnx performance improvement package (PIP) II engine upgrade. The FAA says flight tests will validate instrumentation for the battery and its enclosure testing in addition to improvements for other systems.

Boeing had received FAA’s approval for moving forward with flight tests aiming to permanently solve the  Dreamliner battery problem:

Federal Aviation Administration clears Boeing to test 787 battery – The Australian

BOEING has received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration to begin tests on a fix for lithium ion battery problems with its  Dreamliner, a major step in getting the grounded planes back in the air. The company says successful completion of a certification plan for a battery system redesign lodged with the regulator in late February would result in FAA approval to resume commercial flights. The global fleet of 50 aircraft has been grounded for two months after lithium ion batteries overheated on an aircraft in the US and a second in Japan, causing a fire on the US plane. ”We are confident the plan we approved today includes all the right elements to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery system redesign,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said. “Today’s announcement starts a testing process which will demonstrate whether the proposed fix will work as designed.”

On the other hand, NTSB had also provided a detailed account about the battery failure incident on a Japan Airlines Boeing 787:

NTSB details stubborn battery fire on Boeing 787 – HeraldNet

The National Transportation and Safety Board reported provided an account, down to the second, of the lithium-ion battery failure on a Japan Airlines 787 and emergency responders’ actions. It also detailed the certification process for Boeing’s Dreamliner. The jet has been the subject of intense scrutiny since the Federal Aviation Administration grounded the Dreamliner airplanes on Jan. 16. Boeing has since proposed a fix for the battery and is awaiting a response from the FAA. ”With the grounding of the Dreamliner 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,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB, said in a statement Thursday. The NTSB will hold a forum and a separate hearing in April in Washington, D.C., Hersman said. The events will be webcast. Additional information about dates and times will be released later. The information derived from the events will help the agency 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,” she said.

Finally, the global aviation community is waiting practical flight tests and results for a permanent solution to Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s batteries.

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