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Boeing 787 grounded worldwide for battery inspections
17 January 2013

As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident in Japan, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.

 

The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.
The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The AD is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.
On January 11, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification.

The emergency AD was also adopted by authorities of other countries operating 787 aircraft.  Airlines affected by the measure are LOT Polish Airlines in Europe, Air India, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways and Chilean carrier LAN Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement: “Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators. However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.”

LAN Airlines stated on its website: “In compliance with the recommendation of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA) and in coordination with the Chilean Aeronautical Authority (DGAC), LAN announces that it will temporarily suspend the operation of its three Boeing 787 aircraft.”