Boeing Pitches 787 Fix To Japanese Authorities

 - February 28, 2013, 3:13 PM
The 17 Boeing 787s delivered to All Nippon Airways sit idle while the manufacturer scrambles to convince regulators to approve a solution to the airplanes' battery problem. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner met with Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Akihiro Ota in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss the company’s proposal to return the Boeing 787 to service. As it did after Conner’s meeting with the head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta, last Friday, Boeing declined to comment on the substance of the talks, believed to center on a modifications of the airplane’s lithium-ion batteries meant to prevent fire from spreading from one cell to another and outside its containment case.

Speaking with reporters in Tokyo immediately following the meeting, Conner said that the proposal entails a permanent solution to the problem, even though investigators still haven’t determined its source.

“What we’re looking at is not an interim solution; this is a permanent solution,” said Conner. “The solution set we’ve put in place provides three layers of protection. We feel that this solution takes into account any possible event that could occur and any causal factor that could cause an event, and we feel very confident that we have this fix that will be permanent and allow us to continue with the technology.”

Conner noted that the modifications would not only contain a potential fire due to failure of the power pack, but also serve to prevent the battery from overheating and catching fire. “I think our solution takes that into account,” said Conner.

Conner also denied reports of a disagreement between Boeing and battery maker GS Yuasa over the best way to approach the fix. “We have a great partnership with GS Yuasa,” he said.