The corporate and business aviation sectors have posted strong safety numbers, recording few accidents, but that is no reason for operators to become complacent. That was the message from NTSB member Robert Sumwalt at the Flight Safety Foundation/NBAA annual Business Aviation Safety Summit (Bass), held in late April in San Diego.
The National Transportation Safety Board on May 22 issued five safety recommendations to the FAA related to the evaluation and certification of lithium-ion batteries, as well as the certification of new technology. The recommendations evolved through the ongoing investigation of a Jan. 7, 2013, lithium-ion battery fire aboard a Boeing 787 parked at Boston Logan Airport.
Mid-Continent Instrument (Booth No. 3636) has received FAA and EASA approval for its new True Blue Power TB17 advanced lithium-ion engine start and main ship battery. The TB17 is the first lithium-ion battery to receive certification for general aviation applications. The 16-pound battery is designed for light turbine and piston aircraft and weighs up to 45 percent less than lead-acid or nicad batteries. The company says the TB17 is designed for less maintenance, lower cost and longer life than traditional batteries.
Another incident involving the main lithium-ion battery in a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 just prior to its scheduled departure from Tokyo on Tuesday has prompted an internal investigation at JAL, raising new questions about the integrity of a system redesign devised to mitigate the possibility of fire propagation.
Mid-Continent Instrument’s True Blue Power division introduced two new lithium-ion main-ship batteries yesterday, designed for jets, turboprops, piston airplanes and helicopters. The new 28-volt batteries come in two sizes: the TB44 (44 ampere hours) and TB17 (17 ampere hours), and can be seen at Mid-Continent’s NBAA exhibit (Booth No. C10040). These new batteries, which will be certified and ready for deliveries in the fourth quarter this year, are first being offered to aircraft manufacturers and not yet to the aftermarket.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) hopes that testing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is conducting will identify a limit for the number of lithium batteries that can be safely transported by cargo aircraft.
The July 24 report by the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on the Sept. 3, 2010, crash of a UPS Boeing 747 in Dubai urges operators of the Boeing freighter to consider the role aircraft vibrations and the acoustical energy they generate might play in onboard lithium-ion battery fires. While GCAA investigators suspect an onboard battery fire brought down the aircraft, they did not pinpoint the cause in their conclusions.
The FAA-approved Boeing service bulletin for the 787 calls for modification of the charger and battery monitoring unit to narrow the acceptable level of charge. In essence, this means lowering the maximum charge allowed and raising the minimum level of discharge allowed. In other words, it cuts the performance gain the lithium-ion technology is supposed to bring.
As Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways and other Boeing 787 customers are returning their Dreamliners to service with battery system modification kits, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still looking for the cause of the January 7 APU battery fire aboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston Logan International Airport.
As Ethiopian Airlines and other Boeing 787 customers prepared to return their Dreamliners to service with battery system modification kits, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an exhaustive, two-day investigative hearing into the design and certification of the lithium-ion batteries implicated in the airplane’s grounding. Sixteen witnesses testified and answered questions during the hearing on April 23 and 24 at the Board’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
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