Japan space agency tests Dreamliner battery

Japan space agency will run scans on the battery to see what led it to smoulder
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First Published: Tue, Jan 22 2013. 04 28 PM IST
A file photo of Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: AFP
A file photo of Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: AFP
Tokyo: The charred lithium-ion battery from a troubled Boeing Dreamliner was taken to Japan’s space agency Tuesday, as investigators tried to find out what caused it to overheat on a domestic flight.
Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will run scans on the battery to see if they can discover what led it to smoulder, sparking the worldwide grounding of the next-generation aircraft, said transport minister Akihiro Ota.
“A CT scan will be performed at the facility” on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ota told a regular press briefing.
“As for the safety investigation into the cause (of the problem), that will be done in conjunction with the NTSB and the FAA,” he said, referring to the US National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
Boeing’s cutting-edge planes suffered a series of problems earlier this month, prompting a global alert from the FAA that has seen all 50 operational Dreamliners parked up since last week.
The risk of fire from overheating powerpacks emerged as a major concern after pilots were forced to land a domestic All Nippon Airways flight on 16 January due to smoke apparently linked to them.
Investigators on Friday released a picture showing the blackened remains of the battery in the ANA plane.
They are also inspecting the aircraft’s black box which contains data from the flight that may help to assess how the battery was affected.
Investigators have inspected the offices of GS Yuasa, which manufactures the batteries for the Dreamliner’s advanced electronics systems.
They have stressed that the probe does not mean authorities think Kyoto-based GS Yuasa was to blame for the problems.
But shares in GS Yuasa, whose batteries have been pressed into service in hybrid and electric vehicles, dropped on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tuesday.
Its shares ended the day down 1.88% to 312 and have shed more than 10% since the problems began some two weeks ago.
The firm, which reportedly has a contract to supply batteries to the International Space Station, is one of many contractors in a complex global chain that led to three years of delays before Boeing delivered its first 787 to ANA in 2011.
US investigators probing a fire on a Japan Airlines 787 after it landed in Boston on 7 January ruled out the overcharging of the battery as the cause.
But the NTSB was still testing the charger and components linked to the battery.
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First Published: Tue, Jan 22 2013. 04 28 PM IST
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