Boeing's Dreamliner batteries caught on fire for a few reasons

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Timothy J. Seppala
December 2nd, 2014
Boeing's Dreamliner batteries caught on fire for a few reasons

Curious about what the official word regarding the Boeing Dreamliner's faulty battery is? Of course you are. The National Transportation Safety Board says that the reason for the non-fatal fire was due to "deficiencies in the design and certification process," and has a few fingers to point. The board says that Boeing itself is at fault, calling its safety assessments of the lithium-ion units insufficient. Yuasa, the battery manufacturer, isn't free from blame either. As The Wall Street Journal notes, Yuasa's production process apparently allowed for defects that could cause short-circuiting in the battery's internal cells, and the final battery design was actually different than the one tested and certified. The NTSB goes on to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for its lack of oversight regarding the outsourcing of components in the Dreamliner as well.

For its part, Yuasa's attorney says that it respects the NTSB's decision but that the actual cause for defect remains "elusive." Boeing, on the other hand, offered a non-response on the whole ordeal saying that it now has a "deeper understanding of the in-service environment" and not much else. Should you be inclined to read the full report for yourself and see just what Li-Ion batteries look like when CT-scanned, knock yourself out (PDF). It's a lengthy read, however, so have a snack at the ready -- may we suggest peanuts or pretzels and a tiny can of ginger ale.
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