The Boeing 787 Dreamliner tale has it all: mystery, suspense, and now controversy. On the same day, Japan’s Transport Ministry closed its investigation of Kyoto, Japan-based battery manufacturer GS Yuasa, and U.S. safety officials asked Boeing for its operating history of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery use on 787 aircraft.
The Transport Ministry, part of the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB), found no evidence of problems, whereas U.S. investigators learned a disturbing fact.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the U.S. continues to investigate the GS Yuasa-provided battery that caused a fire on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 airliner parked in Boston. Safety officials also issued a request for historical battery information from Boeing in response to new information gleaned from All Nippon Airways (ANA) maintenance personnel, who revealed having replaced the 787’s batteries prior to the overheating problems being discovered.
An ANA spokesperson revealed that the company had replaced 10 Li-ion batteries on its 787 aircraft in 2012 due. What’s worse, these events—including a failure of the main battery to start, replaced chargers, an error reading on a battery, and failure of the battery responsible for starting the auxiliary power unit (APU)—occurred in just eight months, from May to December 2012. It was also reported today that Japan Airlines (JAL) had replaced batteries on its Boeing 787 fleet.
Japan’s Ministry officials are now turning their attentions away from battery maker GS Yuasa and toward Kanto Aircraft Instrument Co., manufacturer and system integrator of innovative electrical equipment in Kanagawa, Japan. Kanto’s contribution to the 787 includes an avionics system designed to monitor the voltage, charge status, and temperature of the airliner’s lithium-ion batteries.
This geek will keep you informed as further news develops in this troubling case of fried batteries.