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NTSB update on Boeing 787 fire incident in Boston; severe fire damage to APU battery

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released an update on its formal investigation of Monday’s fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston. There were no passengers or crew on board at the time. One firefighter received minor injuries. Boeing had issued an initial statement saying that JAL reported that smoke detected while the 787 was on the ground during cleaning was traced to the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit (APU). Initial NTSB investigative findings include:

  • The NTSB investigator on scene found that the auxiliary power unit battery had severe fire damage. Thermal damage to the surrounding structure and components is confined to the area immediately near the APU battery rack (within about 20 inches) in the aft electronics bay.

  • Preliminary reports from Japan Airlines representatives indicate that airplane maintenance and cleaning personnel were on the airplane with the APU in operation just prior to the detection of smoke in the cabin and that Boston Logan Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting were contacted.

  • Rescue and fire personnel and equipment responded to the airplane and detected a fire in the electronics and equipment bay near the APU battery box. Initial reports indicate that the fire was extinguished about 40 minutes after arrival of the first rescue and fire personnel.

Further investigative updates will be issued as events warrant.

Parties to the investigation are the Federal Aviation Administration and The Boeing Company. In addition, the Japan Transport Safety Board has appointed an accredited representative and Japan Airlines will assist the JTSB as technical advisors.



Better that it happened when the plane was on the ground with noone on board.
You don;t want that kind of thing at 35,000 feet over the Pacific. It brings ETOPS operation into question if the batteries are going to be that dangerous.
I suppose it is just bugs in new technologies (LiIon in planes), but it looks like something they need to get on top of very quickly.

I wouldn't like to be in a plane with a battery fire in the middle of the ocean.


This is apparently one of three problems with the 787 operation in the last month or so.

The new F-35 is having more problems to fly and mass production is delayed again while cost per unit is up to $240+M.

Are we having problems with quality production and high cost?

India plans to pay only about $80M each for 100 Rafalle from Dassault/France.


The cargo compartment fire extinguishers in the 787 use halon, which would prevent fire from spreading but would not suppress a fire driven by a reaction requiring no outside oxygen.  I'll bet that was not very much fun to deal with.


News is the NTSB is getting into the act.


Yes, the NTSB will certainly have a serious look into the 787 failures.

Who will look into the F-35 debacle?


There is probably no mystery here.

Let's hope the NTSB does not get carried away, as this their wont.

High power density combined with the lithium, makes this a simple issue, I believe.

The risk inherent to high energy rotating parts in the turbine engine (adjacent to the fuselage) has been reduced to an acceptable level (but NOT zero risk) without reverting to reciprocating engines.

The solutions to such problems as these typically add weight/cost and consequently argue for allowing time to get the best solution sorted out (in service or prior to).

I hope the NTSB does not screw this up too much.

You want zero risk - stay in bed.

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