Boeing 787 Dreamliner Batteries Have Murky History, May Not Be The Problem

Dreamliner Battery

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner batteries have a bad history, but regulators aren’t sure they are to blame for the latest problems with the airline company’s latest jet.

Japan’s two largest airlines replaced the lithium-ion batteries in their 787s multiple times in the months before two batteries caught fire in flight. One battery was aboard an All Nippon Airways (ANA) jet, while the other was aboard a United Airlines jet.

Reuters reports that both ANA and Japan Airlines released comments that point toward battery reliability issues long before the fires. ANA changed 10 batteries on its Dreamliners last year.

They were not required to inform accident investigators in the US, however, because the incidents didn’t compromise the plane’s safety. JAL spokeswoman Sze Hunn Yap also stated that the company replaced batteries on “a few occasions.”

The news comes as Japanese officials investigating the melted ANA Dreamliner battery have concluded that there were no problems inside the battery due to its manufacturing.

Al Jazeera notes that Shigeru Takano, director of the Civil Aviation Bureau’s air transport safety unit, stated:

“There were several reports on quality control issues, but there was nothing that would have caused an immediate problem inside the battery.”

US aviation safety regulators also stated on Sunday that their initial investigation uncovered “no obvious anomalies” in the battery from the United fire.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first aircraft to use the lithium-ion battery for back-up and auxiliary power. Airbus, who previously warned against using the type of battery, plans to use it in its upcoming A350 jet.

The Dreamliner’s battery problem has kept Boeing’s newest aircraft grounded around the world.

[Image via José A. Montes (Flickr: Boeing 787 Dreamliner N787BX) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]