Japanese airlines had Dreamliner battery issues before recent incidents

Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:47am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's two biggest airlines replaced below-par lithium-ion batteries on their Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners in the months before separate incidents led to the technologically advanced aircraft being grounded worldwide due to battery problems.

Comments from both All Nippon Airways, the new Boeing jetliner's biggest customer to date, and Japan Airlines Co Ltd point to reliability issues with the batteries long before a battery caught fire on a JAL 787 at Boston's airport and a second battery was badly charred and melted on an ANA domestic flight that was forced into an emergency landing.

ANA said it changed 10 batteries on its 787s last year, but did not inform accident investigators in the United States because the incidents, including five batteries that had unusually low charges, did not compromise the plane's safety, spokesman Ryosei Nomura said on Wednesday.

JAL also replaced batteries on the 787 "on a few occasions", said spokeswoman Sze Hunn Yap, declining to be more specific on when units were replaced or whether these were reported to authorities.

ANA did, however, inform Boeing of the faults that began in May, and returned the batteries to their manufacturer, GS Yuasa Corp. A spokesman for the battery maker declined to comment on Wednesday. Shares of the company fell 1.2 percent.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said the airplane maker could not comment as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated this is now part of their investigation.

LITTLE HEADWAY

The New York Times earlier quoted an NTSB spokeswoman as saying the agency would include these "numerous issues" with the 787 battery in its investigations.

Under aviation inspection rules, airlines are required to perform detailed battery inspections once every two years.   Continued...

 
All Nippon Airways' (ANA) planes are seen at Haneda airport in Tokyo January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai