The 787 Battery Fire: Step by step

On January 7, 2013  a JAL Boeing 787 landed at Boston Logan airport. It had flown as JAL008 from Tokyo Narita.  The 787 had logged only 22  pressurisation cycles (basically the number of times it had been in the air) and 169 flight hours. It parked at the gate at 1006am local time. All 183 passengers and 11 crew left the plane. At 1032am  the Cleaning and maintenance crew noticed smoke in cabin. Three minutes later, a mechanic noted flames coming from APU battery in the aft (rear) electronics bay. The  Airport Rescue & Fire Fighting were notified  at 1037am and the fire crews arrived three minutes later at 1040. At  12:19 pm  the fire and rescue personnel reported that the event was “controlled”.

Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, stated yesterday that “the expectation in aviation is t0 never experience a fire on board an aircraft. In two weeks time we saw two cases of battery failures on a 787 and the grounding of the entire fleet by the FAA. the significance of these events cannot be understated”

She further said that “We are early in our investigation, we have a lot of activities to undertake”. What the NTSB can say is that the lithium-ion battery short circuited and there was a thermal runaway, a situation in which a significant temperature increase can cause a destructive chain reaction. The investigation has not revealed the underlying cause. There are two shifts of NTSB investigators working on the investigation. One team is in Japan and one is in the USA. They are also cooperating with the JTSB who are investigating the ANA battery incident which occurred January 16. The FAA and Boeing are also conducting investigations. This could mean a long grounding of the 787.

Video of the Press Conference:

Link to the NTSB Investigation site:


The NTSB Twitter account is: @ntsb



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