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Japan Airlines says smoke seen coming from Boeing 787 battery

Japan Airlines said it temporarily grounded one of its 787 Dreamliners on Tuesday after white smoke was spotted outside the plane, warning lights in the cockpit indicated possible faults with the main battery and charger, and one battery cell appeared to be leaking. ( More...

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Ric Wernicke 17
Move along, nothing to see, white smoke simply means there is a new Pope.
tim mitchell 7
Ummmmmm.....can they (BOEING) just not try other batteries instead
PhotoFinish 7

Boeing should certify old heavy batteries secretly (as insurance, just in case they have another serious incident, so the fleet isn't grounded again).

More importantly, they should spend some good engineering resources to determine the underlying issues that cause the deformation, and build a battery that us durable (won't easily deform) and us extremely reliable (that an fault can be found consistently, long before they cause any serious problems).

The airlines prefer lithium for the wright saving. But the design should be improved no only to try to prevent a runaway fire, bit also I avoid deforming in the first place (or rather so that the deformation won't compromise the integrity of the compartments). Also the design should provide ability to sense a fault before the chemicals can mix explosively. Maybe 2 barriers between every compartment. When one barrier is compromised, the battery sensor can indicate a fault before the second barrier is comprised (so before explosive mixing).

So yes, an old battery can be designed and maybe even be made available. Seems the plane's performance beats the promises performance byba wie margin. So Boeing should be able to offer an older heavy battery design wihoit falling shirt of promised performance.

But more importantly, they should also work on new designs (while faulting batteries of the current design are swapped out when necessary).

But whatever long-term solution or solutions are provided should be durable an reliable (an hopefully as economically advanced as the rest of the plane). Buy the emphasis should be on reliability first, durability next, and economically advanced last.
Neil49 3
I think you need a new keyboard.
PhotoFinish 4

I usually access Squawks from my phone when I'm on the go.

So I use a touch keyboard.

But it's connected to an over-zealous auto-corrector. Which fixes some typos, introduces others, but still misses others.

The phone autolearns words. So it learns misspelled words and changes perfectly written words to the autolearned junk words. Can you believe that?!
Murray Dale 1
Your software is made by the manufacturer of the battery!
preacher1 1
I'd get me a new phone. LOL. That is why I have stayed with a laptop rather than go Smartphone. It's a little more bulky but I have decided I don't need to be wired 24-7 and I actually enjoy conversing with folks and not be interrupted by text or msg. That's just me.

[This poster has been suspended.]

PhotoFinish 1
It keeps learning, so eventually can unlearn some of the mistaken junk words learned in the past.

Though I wish the logic allowed my greater control in removing junk words from its' dictionary/ vocabulary and allowed my to edit correction links (ie. when I type 'this' correct it to 'that').

So not only would the phone learn with each word written by the user, but the learning could be directed by the user.
PhotoFinish 1

They're saying that in a few years all phones will be smartphones. They won't sell any others.
joel wiley 1
Remember, 'smart' is a label, not necessarily a description. Got a Galaxy Note 3 'phablet' for xmas, must use same autocorrupt. Have a bluetooth keyboard for the ipad, wonder if that works... LOL
sounds like it was built by ...ah, nevermind :)
chalet 1
@ Photofinish please clarify to me, did Boeing and the vendors of the original 787 batteries really found out exactly what was the root of the problems two years ago, or they just simply beefed up the thickness of the walls and installed a smoke vent. I am afraid that the did not.
PhotoFinish 2
They may know more than they've said. But they've said very little.

The NTSB report, expected in March, will likely be more informative.
preacher1 3
The workaround has apparently worked but you would think if they had found the root cause, they would have already announced it and made a permanent fix, unless it was super bad.
PhotoFinish 1
I would like to think that the workaround was to give them time to do some serious research, engineering and testing of battery prototypes that will be at the heart of the 787 and every new airplane designed from this point forward.

They may testing to see how long these workaround batteries' life cycle lasts. They seem substantially similar to the older replaced batteries, with greater separation to try to prevent runaway fires, and was as better fault-sensing and relief valves to relieve pressure that may have otherwise initiated a runaway event.

I'm confident these 3 layers of prevention make the batteries significantly safer than the older design.

But I think they need to consider newer safer chemistry options. Though the issues they're facing may be a function of the higher energy density. (If you think about gasoline. It very energy dense, so very comvystanle and explosive).

And also they need a design that accounts for the repeated expansion and contraction of each flight cycle, without deformation. I predict that the this deformation, which can compromise compartment integrity, that will be the fundamental cause of the battery problems.

So bottom line, the design* needs to reflect the conditions in which the battery will be used. Then a great design should be protected with multiple layers of protection (similar to the current workaround batteries).

* if they have to keep replacing the batteries because of deformation-induced faults, they'll quickly have to replace them with a newer design that's been in research an testing ever since the fleet was ground (and even way before).

Wonder how much research Boeing is doing themselves and how much they're waiting on the Japanese suppliers to do. I suspect they're doing more of the research and testing themselves now.
preacher1 2
Probably so. If memory serves correct, JAL was either the 1st or 2nd to have problems originally and are among the oldest birds of that type. It will be interesting. I just hope this ain't the tip of the iceberg like last year.
PhotoFinish 1
Me too.

That's why I immediately thought that they need to be prepared to switch out many batteries quickly.

Age of plane should not matter here. The battery has been replaced. What matters here is the number of flight cycles since the battery was installed.

The Japanese carriers were the first to operate these planes so it makes sense that their planes would be the first to encounter the battery issues intially.

But since the fleet grounding, all batteries were replaced within a shirt period of time and put back into service.

These batteries may be much safer, but they br replacing a whole wave of batteries that indicate they have faulted and/or in an abundance of caution.

[This poster has been suspended.]

PhotoFinish 1
This article seems better.

1. It provides more info.

2. It shows that the system worked as designed to contain a fault in one cell, that vented to the outside to relieve the its' increased pressure.

3. They postulate that the increased pressure may have been due to overcharging.


The charging system should not allow overcharging.

Boeing should determine what caused the high pressure (eg. over-charging, battery deformation).

Then deal with whatever is the underlying issue.
And likewise, the system should not allow for excessive surge current. Sequencing can help when switching on multiple systems or failing that, "start caps" installed locally next to surging systems.
PhotoFinish 1
Certainly, the software is very important. That's the other major issue that can impact aviation batteries.

If the batteries are built with quality (ie. without impurities) that may cause fires, the two major issues that can defeat the batteries are:

1) software - including the charging protocols, and any controlling software to properly control the flow of energy during use. Not overwhelming the battery is always a good idea.

2) physical deformation - from the life cycle of the batteries in repeated cycles of pressure changes from flying to altitude and back, that have physical effects on the materials of the battery (that keep different battery components from mixing explosively).
Ryan Vince 2
The 787 makes the news over every little issue. I hope this event doesn't get massive attention, everything did just what it should in an event like this and contained the fault
preacher1 6
Well, the fix did work as designed, BUT, there has been public pronouncement of moving forward to find out what caused the problem in the first place and that is what's needful. Just about anything can be fixed or a workaround designed but that does not reach the root of the problem.
PhotoFinish 5
That's exactly what I'm suggesting.

I'm confident the workaround with increased vigilance and the sensors will catch the deforming batteries most of the time. But it is essential that the problems always get catch in advance of a fire. We can't afford to have even one fire in flight. I'm not confident the containment box can domych mordant than slow down the fire (unless they state publicly that they have conducted full burn tests on multiple batteries with runaway fires within these containment boxes that were completely contained until the fire burned itself out. The difficulty is that the chemistry of these batteries means these fires are hard to extinguish.

Lithium battery fires are very high energy.
preacher1 3
there has been NO public pronouncement
PhotoFinish 1
I like these new generation planes a lot. There was actually an effort made to improve the passenger experience and the operational economics. Infant them to do well and be reliable.

I wouldn't want a catastrophic incident. Not for the crew and passengers of the flight with the potential incident. Not for the great plane.

If the A350 develops some similar crazy problem, inwould also want it to be resolved. I wouldn't wish this headache on any manufacturer.

But I want them to work hard (even if quietly behind the scenes) to resolve the issue. I always though of the redesigned batteries as stopgap measure to allow the planes to fly as they continue to investigate, determine the underlying cause, and create a design that will provide both reliability and disability. Thy need a battery that can withstand many flight cycles of expansion and contraction as the plane ascends into and descend from altitude repeatedly day after day. Deformation is what leads to the battery faults can result in fires.

It's a great plane that deserves a battery worthy of powering the plane's systems.
PhotoFinish -1
It's only one battery, and the systems worked as designed, and the fault was discovered early.

But these batteries have only befn in service a little over half a year. That's a fairly short life cycle for an expensive new battery type.

I would suggest swapping many of these batteries out for brand new ones. For now identical to the ones bring replaced, just with fewer flight cycles.

But also it is a good idea to develop both safer old chemistry batteries and even-more-durable new chemistry batteries (that better handle the expansion and contraction cycles of flying) for the plane.
matt jensen 1
PhotoFinish 1
Swap out the battery and battery charger. Send the replaced items to Boeing for testing and investigation, and get the plane back to flying.
joel wiley 1
no kibutz, just following the thread
kev wu 1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Another battery incident troubles Boeing's 787 Dreamliner

Nearly nine months after it returned to the sky and its battery system was declared safe, new reports surfaced Tuesday of smoke aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Tokyo's Narita International Airport.
The incident "appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell," aboard a Japan Airlines 787, Boeing told CNN in a statement. A year ago, overheated batteries aboard two Dreamliners prompted aviation officials to ground all 50 of the planes worldwide.
bryan dumas 1
Question: Why are the foreign operators of the 788 having issues? I haven't heard a peep from/about United and their 788 and I live here in Denver where it flies daily to Narita.
United was on the list last year!!!
SURPRISE...SURPRISE....well not really! boeing gets a big fail !
Matthew Keels -1
Boeing is a 787 is a joke
PhotoFinish 2
The future will have lots of 787s flying as well as many other planes, that will have technologies that either debuted or whose function was greatly expanded in the 787, also flying, from Boeing, from Airbus (note the A350) and from other manufacturers that are already moving up the food chain and/or are making plans now to be in the commercial passenger aircraft market.
joel wiley 1
Sorry, I'm a little slow on the uptake today. Could you please repeat the punch-line?
PhotoFinish -5
This one incident is no big deal. The airline just swaps out the battery, and the plane us good to go in short order.

It would be wise for Boeing (in conjunction with the airlines) to swap out many of the older batteries (they're all relatively new, but maybe the ones with the most flight cycles). As much as some of the more scientific-types would like data on the durability of these new batteries, it seems more prudent to avoid future battery incidents.

So change'm out boys. Keep that plans flying without serious incident.

(Still think it is a good idea to quietly certify an older chemistry battery without the high energy issues of lithium batteries, just in case, while at the same time testing newer chemistry batteries with more durable design. Having another run away lithium battery fire even within the new containment box, can have undesirable consequences.)


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