FAA grounds all US Boeing 787 Dreamliners after second lithium ion battery failure

Alexis Santos
A. Santos|01.16.13

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Alexis Santos
January 16th, 2013
FAA grounds all US Boeing 787 Dreamliners after second lithium ion battery failure

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner began joining US airline fleets last year, but a fire started by the plane's lithium ion batteries last week put it on the docket for a review by the FAA. After a second mishap caused by the bird's batteries, the FAA is now requiring US airlines to temporarily ground all Dreamliners. In addition, the agency said it's given international aviation authorities a heads-up so they can take similar measures. According to the regulatory outfit, the battery failures could botch critical systems and structures, in addition to starting fires. In order to sort things out, the FAA says it'll work with Boeing on a plan that'll fix the issues and put the craft back in commission as "quickly and safely as possible." Hit the jump for the FAA's full statement.

Update: A United spokesman shared the following statement, confirming that passengers scheduled to fly on the Dreamliner will travel on other aircraft, instead:

"United will immediately comply with the Airworthiness Directive and will work closely with the FAA and Boeing on the technical review as we work toward restoring 787 service. We will begin re-accommodating customers on alternate aircraft."

As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.

The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.

The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The AD is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.

Last Friday, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787's critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft's design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft's certification.

United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes in service. When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive, it also alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.

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