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Lithium Ion Batteries Causing Big Problems for Aviation Industry

No Boeing 787 Dreamliners have crashed or burned to the ground, but lithium ion technology is back in the news with a vengeance. The lithium ion batteries that are used in the Boeing 787 are not good enough – they have runaway overheating and discharge smoke and fumes. In flight this would be very alarming and cause for rapid descent and landing.

This will not do, it’s not like pulling the electric vehicle over and hopping out on the side of the road. Boeing and airlines with 787s in the fleet have to be very concerned and quite angry with the battery supplier, Yuasa. Admirably, so far Boeing is taking all this squarely on its own chin.

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At a briefing on the progress in theNTSB investigation of the lithium ion battery fire on-board a JAL Boeing 787 at Logan Airport in Boston, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman revealed (via a pdf download) that the investigating team had found signs of electrical short circuiting and thermal runaway in the cells. The NTSB is working to determine the cause.

The next steps in what appears will be a lengthy investigation will be to complete the in-house laboratory examinations; conduct examinations and testing of exemplar batteries; and to synthesize lab examination findings with fire forensics and aviation systems investigation.



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