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Boeing 787 Dreamliner investigation focuses on batteries

A photo from the Japan Transport Safety Board shows the damaged main lithium ion battery, left, and a normal one.

Japan Transport Safety Board

A photo from the Japan Transport Safety Board shows the damaged main lithium ion battery, left, and a normal one.

TOKYO — Japanese and U.S. investigators began an investigation Monday into the maker of the lithium ion batteries used in Boeing's grounded 787 jets.

Tsutomu Nishijima, a spokesman for GS Yuasa, the battery manufacturer, said that investigators visited the company's headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, and that Yuasa was cooperating with the inquiry.

All 50 of the 787 Dreamliners that Boeing has delivered to airlines were grounded after an overheated battery forced the emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways 787 flight last week in western Japan. Boeing has halted deliveries of new planes until it can address the problems.

Monday's investigation involved an introductory meeting and factory tour, with deeper studies into product quality and other issues to follow as the inquiry continues, said Tatsuyuki Shimazu, the chief air worthiness engineer at Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau's Aviation Safety Department.

Two investigators from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and an investigator from Japan's government were conducting the inquiry into how the batteries are made and assembled and into any quality issues, he said.

The burned insides of the All Nippon Airways battery showed it received voltage in excess of its design limits. However, a battery that caught fire in a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in Boston earlier this month was found not to have been overcharged.

U.S. government investigators said there could still be problems with wiring or other charging components.

In the U.S., investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board planned to meet today with officials from Securaplane Technologies Inc., manufacturer of the charger for the batteries, at the company's headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., said NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner investigation focuses on batteries 01/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 7:06pm]
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