FAA sees lessons from Boeing 787 battery woes

Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:58pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal-Esa

NEW YORK/COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are discussing whether the batteries that burned on Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner hold any lessons for other aircraft or vehicles.

George Nield, associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, said a dialogue is taking place about whether the overheating of two lithium-ion batteries on the 787 could have broader implications.

"Everyone's looking to see if there are any lessons to be learned from this," Nield told Reuters during a conference hosted by the Space Foundation this week.

The discussion marks a shift for the agency. Two months after the Dreamliner was approved for service in 2011, a lithium-ion battery caught fire on a Cessna business jet, prompting the FAA to order that lithium-ion batteries be replaced with less hazardous cells on all of those jets within a week. But the agency concluded there were no broader lessons to be learned for the 787 or other aircraft.

Nield, who noted that the International Space Station is among the platforms that use the batteries, said the discussion is different now.

"There might not have been a lot (of dialogue) in the past, but I can assure you there will be going forward," Nield said.


Lightweight and power-packed, lithium-ion batteries are used to power electric cars, laptops, tablets, cell phones, satellites. They are even used on the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet. The number of cells manufactured globally has leapt to 4.4 billion in 2012 from 800 million in 2002.   Continued...

The burnt auxiliary power unit battery, removed from an All Nippon Airways' (ANA) Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner plane which made an emergency landing on January 16, 2013 in Takamatsu, is inspected by the manufacturer at the headquarters of GS Yuasa Corp in Kyoto, western Japan, in this handout photo taken on January 26, 2013 and released by the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Japan Transport Safety Board/Handout