After a Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire at Logan International Airport in Boston last week, the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the incident. Shortly thereafter, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to launch a top-priority review of the Boeing 787 due to repeated issues in its electrical systems. The review is intended to discover the root causes of the incidents with the new aircraft in order to address them before a serious accident occurs.
The investigation into the specific incident in Boston has led the NTSB to analyze the lithium-ion batteries and wiring in the auxiliary power unit (APU). In addition to removing the batteries from the plane, NTSB investigators also removed wiring bundles, the APU battery charger and memory nodules. Electrical system failures have plagued the new aircraft since its release. It is not yet known whether the fire in Boston was caused by the same issues that caused electrical system failures in other 787s.
The FAA has joined Boeing in declaring that the 787 is safe. It has not called for existing 787s to be grounded and it has not halted production of new Dreamliners. Representatives have suggested that the problems affecting the Dreamliner are typical of any new aircraft, particularly one with as many new advancements in the field as the 787.
The NTSB investigation has pulled in representatives from the Japan Transport Safety Board, the FAA, Boeing, French civil aviation security personnel and more. Many of the 787 Dreamliner’s currently in use are owned by Japanese airlines, including the plane that caught fire at Logan International.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “NTSB to probe batteries, wiring in Dreamliner fire,” 14 January 2013