The Japan Transport Safety Board has concluded its investigation into the overheating of the lithium-ion main ship battery aboard a Boeing 787 last year without reaching a definitive conclusion on the cause. However, the report, issued on Thursday, said that “inappropriate” testing might have contributed to the Jan. 16, 2013 incident, which led to a worldwide grounding of the Dreamliner fleet until Ethiopian Airlines resumed service on April 27 that year. It also pointed to low temperatures as a possible culprit due to lithium metal’s tendency to form deposits on a battery’s electrodes in such conditions.
Addison, Texas-based aircraft maintenance and charter company Baker Aviation is now the exclusive distributor for the Hot-Stop L fire containment bag. To mark the occasion, Baker is offering a $100 surrender rebate for competing fire containment bags at time of purchase of a new Hot-Stop L lithium-ion fire containment bag. Last year, Baker Aviation announced the free replacement of any Hot-Stop L bag that has been deployed to contain thermal runaway of lithium ion-powered devices aboard an aircraft.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued safety regulations July 31 for transporting lithium batteries by air, a move intended to harmonize existing U.S. rules with international standards. The Air Line Pilots Association praised the action as recognition of the serious risk unregulated shipments of lithium batteries pose to all who depend on air transportation.
Bombardier Aerospace recently completed a non-temperature-restricted bleedless auxiliary power unit starting test, following a 10-hour cold soak at -40 degrees F and using a starter/generation system and lithium-ion battery system. The Safran Microturbo e-APU system included a starter generator and power electronics from Thales and a Saft Li-ion battery system. The prototype equipment was designed for business jets, Bombardier said. The tests were conducted at the Safran Turbomeca cold-chamber facility in Pau, France.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigation into the fire on board a Boeing 787 operated by Ethiopian Airlines at London Heathrow Airport on July 12, 2013, discovered improper wiring of the lithium metal battery that powered the aircraft’s Honeywell 406AFN fixed emergency locator transmitter (ELT). According to an AAIB special bulletin published last week, the investigation concluded that the battery had been incorrectly wired to the ELT during the manufacturing process.
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.
The Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in a January 12 letter to promptly complete its review of pending rules designed to bring the U.S. into compliance with ICAO on methods of transporting lithium batteries aboard civil aircraft. Citing the prohibition of lithium batteries aboard passenger aircraft, the PRBA said it sees no reason why the government should delay rule harmonization any longer.
The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau is investigating what caused smoke to pour from a main battery vent aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 on January 14. The manufacturer developed a fix for its lithium batteries after last year’s fleet grounding, so the work now is focused on whether the fix actually worked and prevented a larger fire, or whether the smoke and the associated battery alarms were indicative of some other issue.
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