Dreamliner jet needs more checks, say aviation officials
US and Japanese aviation safety officials wrapped up their initial investigation of a badly damaged battery from a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet yesterday, saying further checks would be held in Tokyo and could take a week to complete.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)and Boeing joined Japanese authorities looking into what caused warning lights to go off on an All Nippon Airways flight this week, prompting the aircraft to make an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.
The incident prompted regulators in the United States and around the world to ground the 50 Dreamliners in service. The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite 787 has been plagued by mishaps, with safety concerns centred on its use of lithium-ion batteries, which pack more energy and are faster to recharge but which are potentially more volatile.
The US investigation into that incident is focused on the Japanese-made batteries, with no indication the APU – built by United Technologies’ Pratt Whitney – was involved, said a person familiar with the government probe, who was not authorised to speak publicly.
Mark Rosenker, a former NTSB chairman, said Boeing conducted more than 1.3 million hours of testing before deciding the lithium-ion batteries were safe to use on the 787, and the company had to satisfy additional rigorous tests to be granted “special condition” by the FAA to use the batteries. The union representing 23,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers urged members to reject the company’s latest contract offer on Thursday, a move that ended negotiations and positioned the union a step closer to calling a strike even though the two sides earlier appeared close to a deal.
Boeing on Thursday said its “best and final” proposal would mostly extend the existing contract for four years, something the union had proposed on Wednesday.
However, Boeings offer would eliminate a defined-benefit pension plan for new hires. – (Reuters)