No one was aboard the jet yesterday at Tokyo’s Narita airport as it was prepared for a flight to Bangkok, and JAL put another 787 on that trip, said Seiji Takaramoto, a spokesman for the carrier.
The results of the probe will be shared with Japan’s transportation ministry and Boeing, he said.
A JAL mechanic discovered smoke from under the fuselage, and an inspection found a safety valve on one of eight battery cells had opened and vented liquid, Takaramoto said. The other seven cells were intact, Takaramoto said by telephone. Cockpit instruments showed a possible fault in a main battery and a main battery charger, he said.
“The improvements made to the 787 battery system last year appear to have worked as designed,” Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman, said by e-mail. “Since certification of the enhanced 787 battery system in 2013, and the return to service of the 787 fleet, this is the first indication of a battery cell failure.”
Lithium-ion batteries on Dreamliners melted down twice in January 2013, spurring regulators to order the planes parked worldwide while Chicago-based Boeing crafted a fix. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for Dreamliner flights to resume three months later.
Boeing fell 0.8 percent to $139.60 at 12:34 p.m. in New York, paring an intraday drop of as much as 2.1 percent that followed the disclosure of the smoke.
The incident occurred yesterday afternoon at Narita, Tokyo’s main international airport and a hub for JAL and ANA Holdings Inc. ANA’s All Nippon and Tokyo-based JAL are the biggest operators of the 787, the first jetliner built chiefly of composite materials.
The redesign included new components to minimize potential of a short-circuit, battery insulation between cells to halt the spread of fire, and a new heat-resistant case and venting system. The battery enclosure was intended to ensure that fire can’t develop inside, while the voltage range of the batteries, made by Kyoto, Japan-based GS Yuasa Corp., was also limited.
No cause for the 2013 failures was ever found. The fixes were designed to head off every possible way the batteries can fail, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told Congress in February.
(Kiyotaka Matsuda and Julie Johnsson - Bloomberg)