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Old 7th Mar 2013, 19:31
  #844 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: engineer at large
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From Boeing

Boston airport firefighters encountered sizzling liquid and a hissing, “exploding” battery when they entered the 787 at the center of a two-month-long National Transportation Safety Board investigation, according to documents released Thursday.

The NTSB said Thursday it plans two public hearings next month, one to explore lithium-ion battery technology in general and another to discuss the design and certification of the Boeing 787 battery system. (Emphasis least another month before hearings)

The safety agency announced the hearings as it released an interim factual report and 499 pages of related documents on its investigation of the Japan Airlines 787 fire at the Boston airport on January 7.

Among the findings in the documents released Thursday:

• On the day of the Boston fire, the battery did not behave as Boeing or subcontractor Thales predicted.

The battery’s power discharge was “not at the constant rate described by the Boeing or Thales documents and included large changes and reversals of power within short periods of time,” according to the Airworthiness Group Chairman Report.

• Sitting on a rack above the battery that burned was a smaller lithium ion battery, also supplied by Japanese manufacturer GS Yuasa, that is used to provide emergency power for the jet’s flight controls “for a minimum of 10 minutes when no other electrical power is available.”

Investigators found the exterior of this battery had been “lightly scorched” by the fire below and noted that its case had openings at the corners.

• No heat damage was found to any primary airplane structure.

However, the floor panel and carbon fiber floor support material, which are considered to be secondary structure, “were found to be heat damaged beneath where the APU battery had been installed.”

• The firefighters who were called to put out the fire did not know they were dealing with a lithium-ion battery, and had great difficulty putting out the intense fire.

When Capt. Mark Munroe of the airport’s aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) unit entered the plane, he “saw heavy white smoke billowing through the floor” of the passenger cabin.

After locating the fire inside the electronics bay in the belly of the airplane, firefighters entered the compartment through dense smoke and applied shots of Halotron fire extinguisher to the battery.

Lt. David Hoadley of the ARFF unit reported that “It seemed like the fire did not want to go out, it kept rekindling.”

Then the battery “exploded,” according to Capt. Monroe.

“Capt. Munroe heard the battery hissing still and pushing white smoke or steam. There was liquid sizzling over the sides of the battery and still heavy smoke conditions. ... The battery continued to hiss before exploding.”

Monroe related that “he felt something hit him in the neck while he was in the airplane,” and he was sent out for medical treatment. “Something had burned his neck.”

Firefighters attempted to remove the battery from the jet, but found that the “quick disconnect” mechanism Boeing had included to allow mechanics to take out the battery for maintenance was “melted and un-recognizable” and a metal plate was preventing access.

The battery had to be cut out from the rack where it sat.

“With a hot battery and a gloved hand (Lt. Hoadley) could not access the bolts on the lower rails with tools. They attempted with pliers to remove the bolts for maybe 20 minutes. What looked like Teflon slides were burnt away and the battery would not move. There were 3 more screws that could not be removed.”

Firefighters cut away the metal plate, severed the battery wire, then “pried the battery loose with hydraulic spreaders and removed it.”

The battery was passed down to a firefighter and placed on the tarmac about 50 feet from the airplane.

The fire was declared under control an hour and forty minutes after the initial notification.

Boeing’s entire fleet of 787s has been unable to fly since two battery incidents in January prompted a Federal Aviation Administration order grounding the planes.

The company’s proposed tests of improvements to its battery system are currently under review by the FAA, which is expected to make an initial recommendation on those plans next week.

NTSB describes sizzling, hissing 787 battery in Boston fire | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

Last edited by FlightPathOBN; 7th Mar 2013 at 19:34.
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