Category Archives: NTSB

NTSB is making progress on the JAL Boeing 787 battery fire investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board (Washington) has issued this new interim report on the Boeing 787-8 fire at Boston:

The National Transportation Safety Board has released the seventh update on its investigation into the January 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The auxiliary power unit battery, manufactured by GS Yuasa, was the original battery delivered with the airplane on December 20, 2012. It is comprised of eight individual cells. All eight cells came from the same manufacturing lot in July 2012. The battery was assembled in September 2012 and installed on the aircraft on October 15, 2012. It was first charged on October 19, 2012.

Examination and testing of an exemplar battery got underway earlier this week at the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center laboratories in West Bethesda, MD. The tests consisted of electrical measurements, mass measurements, and infrared thermal imaging of each cell, with no anomalies noted. The cells are currently undergoing CT scanning to examine their internal condition. In addition, on Thursday, a battery expert from the Department of Energy joined the investigative team to lend his expertise to the ongoing testing and validation work.

In Seattle, NTSB investigators and Boeing engineers examine the type of lithium ion battery used on the Boeing 787 to start the auxiliary power unit and to provide backup power for flight critical systems.
In Seattle, NTSB investigators and Boeing engineers examine the type of lithium ion battery used on the Boeing 787 to start the auxillary power unit and to provide backup power for flight critical systems.

NTSB investigators were made aware of reports of prior battery replacements on aircraft in the 787 fleet, early in the investigation. As reported Tuesday, Boeing, a party to the investigation, is providing pertinent fleet information which investigators will review to determine if there is any relevance to the JAL investigation.

An investigative group continued to interpret data from the two digital flight data recorders on the aircraft, and is examining recorded signals to determine if they might yield additional information about the performance of the battery and the operation of the charging system.

Next week, the NTSB battery testing team will initiate a non-invasive “soft short” test of all cells of the exemplar battery. This test will reveal the presence of any high resistance, small or “soft” shorts within a cell. Also, an NTSB investigator will travel to France with the battery contactor from the JAL event battery, for examination at the manufacturer. The battery contactor connects a wiring bundle from the airplane to the battery.

Investigators are continuing their work in Washington and Japan and the team in Seattle continues to observe the FAA-led review of the certification process for the 787 battery system. The flow of information from these observations helps to inform NTSB investigative activity in the US and around the world.

Additional information on the NTSB’s investigation of the Japan Airlines B-787 battery fire in Boston is available at http://go.usa.gov/4K4J.

The NTSB will provide another factual update as developments warrant.

Excess voltage of the 787 batteries is ruled out as the cause of the Boston JAL fire, NTSB now looking at the APU

NTSB logo

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (Washington) has ruled out excess voltage as the cause of a battery fire this month on a Boeing 787 operated by Japan Airlines (Tokyo) according to Reuters (see reports below) and said they were expanding the probe to look at the battery’s charger and the jet’s auxiliary power unit.

According to the report, investigators will convene in Tucson, Arizona today to test and examine the charger for the battery, and download non-volatile memory from the APU controller, with similar tests planned at the Phoenix facility where the APUs are built.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

On January 14 the NTSB issued this preliminary report:

The National Transportation Safety Board today released a second update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit on the airplane was removed and transported back to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington on Jan. 10. The battery is currently being examined by NTSB investigators, who plan to disassemble it this week.

Click for Larger Image
NTSB photos of the burned auxiliary power unit battery from a JAL Boeing 787 that caught fire on Jan. 7 at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The dimensions of the battery are 19×13.2×10.2 inches and it weighs approximately 63 pounds (new).

 

In advance of that work, under the direction of the NTSB, radiographic examinations of the incident battery and an exemplar battery were conducted this past weekend at an independent test facility. The digital radiographs and computed tomography scans generated from this examination allowed the team to document the internal condition of the battery prior to disassembling it.

In addition, investigators took possession of burned wire bundles, the APU battery charger, and several memory modules. The maintenance and APU controller memory modules will be downloaded to obtain any available data. Investigators also documented the entire aft electronics bay including the APU battery and the nearby affected structure where components and wire bundles were located. The airplane was released back to Japan Airlines on Jan. 10.

The airplane’s two combined flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder units were transported to NTSB headquarters and have been successfully downloaded. The information is currently being analyzed by the investigative team.

The airport emergency response group documented the airport rescue and firefighting efforts to extinguish the fire, which included interviews with first responders. Fire and rescue personnel were able to contain the fire using a clean agent (Halotron), however, they reported experiencing difficulty accessing the battery for removal during extinguishing efforts. All fire and rescue personnel responding to the incident had previously received aircraft familiarization training on the Boeing 787. In accordance with international investigative treaties, the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile have appointed accredited representatives to the investigation. The NTSB-led investigative team is comprised of subject matter groups in the areas of airplane systems, fire, airport emergency response, and data recorders and includes experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, The Boeing Company, US Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division, Japan Airlines (aircraft operator), GS Yuasa (battery manufacturer), and Thales Avionics Electrical Systems (APU battery/charger system).

On January 20 the NTSB issued this on-going report:

The National Transportation Safety Board today released a third update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit has been examined in the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington. The battery was x-rayed and CT scans were generated of the assembled battery. The investigative team has disassembled the APU battery into its eight individual cells for detailed examination and documentation. Three of the cells were selected for more detailed radiographic examination to view the interior of the cells prior to their disassembly. These cells are in the process now of being disassembled and the cell’s internal components are being examined and documented.

Investigators have also examined several other components removed from the airplane, including wire bundles and battery management circuit boards. The team has developed test plans for the various components removed from the aircraft, including the battery management unit (for the APU battery), the APU controller, the battery charger and the start power unit. On Tuesday, the group will convene in Arizona to test and examine the battery charger and download nonvolatile memory from the APU controller. Several other components have been sent for download or examination to Boeing’s facility in Seattle and manufacturer’s facilities in Japan.

Finally, examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B-787 airplane indicate that the APU battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.

In accordance with international investigative treaties, the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile have appointed accredited representatives to this investigation. Similarly, the NTSB has assigned an accredited representative to assist with the JTSB’s investigation of the Jan. 15 battery incident involving an All Nippon Airways B-787. Both investigations remain ongoing.

 

NTSB urges redesign of Rolls-Royce 777 engines

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (Washington) has issued an urgent safety recommendation for the redesign of the Rolls-Royce engine component of Boeing 777 during the next maintenance cycle or within the next six months. This recommendation comes after its investigation of two 777 engine failure incidents, the January 17, 2008 dual-engine failure and crash at Heathrow Airport of a British Airways Triple Seven and a November 26, 2008 single engine failure involving a Delta Air Lines 777-232 ER en route from Shanghai to Atlanta over Montana. It will now be up to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to accept and implement the recommendation.