Boeing Knew About The 787 Dreamliner's Battery Problems Before It Caught Fire

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was recently grounded across the world because its lithium ion batteries would self-combust in a blaze of glory (aka the batteries melt). What's interesting is that Boeing knew about all the battery problems in the 787 before any flight was grounded.

The NY Times reports that Air Nippon Airways, the 787's biggest operator, had replaced 10 of its batteries in the months before the battery that caused a grounding had caught fire. Boeing was notified of the battery issues (and that they were replaced) but Air Nippon Airways did not report them to safety officials because they were not required to. The Times says:

In five of the 10 replacements, All Nippon said that the main battery showed an unexpectedly low charge. An unexpected drop in a 787's main battery also occurred on the All Nippon flight that had to make an emergency landing in Japan on Jan. 16.

The airline also revealed that in three instances, the main battery failed to start normally and had to be replaced along with the charger. In other cases, one battery showed an error reading and another, used to start the auxiliary power unit, failed.

Lithium ion batteries are slightly more dangerous than the traditional batteries used in planes because it can overheat and ignite if not properly charged and discharged. It's a scary phenomenon known as thermal runway. The FAA had allowed Boeing in 2007 to start using lithium ion batteries if it could prevent such fires from happening. Looks like they were unable to in the 787 Dreamliner. [NY Times]



    Boeing caught between a rock and a hard place. Make the problem public and risk losing sales. Don't make the problem public, hope you can fix it quickly and quietly, and risk getting slammed when it becomes public.

      Rock and a hard place, you mean money and lives right?

      I know what you are trying to say but that is a going light on Boeing take on it. There are lives at risk, no money should be above that. Unfortunately lives are given a monetary value but f*&k that and the money grabbing Boeing a*&eholes.

        Well they lost $ anyways, Qantas pulled all their Dreamliner orders.

        I vote better to come clean and do something than have a mid air explosion on your bloody hands

          Qantas did no such thing. They reduced their order. From 15 to 14, 1 aircraft and according to their statement it has nothing to do with the safety concerns. They have also maintained their option of a further 50 aircraft.

          cheetah, is your real name Luke by any chance? Your fact checking is to about the same standard as Luke's.

    The unfortunate truth is that companies apparently lose more money on grounding planes than suffering a fatal crash

    Only things America can make properly is war and porn. The rest is SHIT.

    Last edited 30/01/13 7:13 pm

      Really? When was the last time the engine of a Boeing aircraft had an uncontained turbine failure?

      They make the best guitars too!

    Erm ... the faulty batteries were actually made by a Japanese company (Yuasa) ... otherwise the 787 has performed pretty well

      Are the batteries actually faulty or is Boeing using them in an improper manner (or installed them wrongly)?

        The batteries short circuted. This can be caused by a manufacturing flaw or it can be that the battery was getting too much charge. From what I've read the equipment monitoring the batteries did not detect an over charge. If this is confirmed it would indicate a manufacturing fault in the battery.

        I have to admit I was shocked when I heard that they were using Lion batteries. They have such a bad track record, they use an extreemly flamable substance as an electrolite and are alot more sensitive to overcharge than other battery types.

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