Investigators Take Close Look at Battery from JAL 787

 - January 14, 2013, 5:48 PM
Investigators have turned their attention to the charred remains of a lithium-ion battery from a JAL Boeing 787. (Photo: NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board last weekend began its examination of the lithium-ion battery removed from a Japan Airlines 787 that caught fire at Boston Logan International Airport on January 7.

Transported to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., on January 10, the battery underwent radiographic analysis there while an independent test facility conducted the same kind of examination on an exemplar battery. The digital radiographs and computed tomography scans generated from the examination allowed the team to document the internal condition of the battery prior to disassembly, which they plan to do this week.

Investigators also collected burned wire bundles, the APU battery charger and several memory modules, including those from which they plan to download data on maintenance and the APU controller. Investigators also documented the entire aft electronics bay, including the APU battery and the nearby structure that contained components and wire bundles.

NTSB personnel also transported the airplane’s two combined flight-data recorder and cockpit-voice recorder units to Washington. Investigators successfully downloaded the information from the recorders and have begun their analysis.

Meanwhile, the NTSB’s airport emergency response group interviewed first responders and documented the airport rescue and firefighting efforts to extinguish the fire. Although fire and rescue personnel managed to contain the fire using a so-called clean agent called Halotron, they said they experienced difficulty retrieving the battery during extinguishing efforts.

Along with the NTSB, the Japan Transport Safety Board and the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety have appointed accredited representatives to the investigation. The NTSB-led investigative team consists of subject-matter groups in the areas of airplane systems, fire, airport emergency response and data recorders and includes experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division, Japan Airlines, GS Yuasa (battery manufacturer) and Thales Avionics Electrical Systems (APU battery/charger system).