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Another expert says Boeing's 787 will be grounded for a yearJanuary 27, 2013 @ 4:16 pm (Updated: 6:45 pm - 1/27/13 )
After a series of onboard fires, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all airlines to park their Dreamliners on January 16. The order followed Japan Airlines' grounding its 787s after a battery fire forced the evacuation of an All Nippon Airways flight.
John Goglia, a former NTSB board member with a Federal Aviation Administration aircraft mechanic's certification told KIRO Radio the 787 would likely be grounded for a year.
Now Donald Sadoway, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggests Boeing change the Dreamliner's battery system.
Sadoway told Forbes the problems with the 787, which was grounded earlier this month by the FAA, could be solved by switching from the current lithium-ion batteries to nickel metal-hydride batteries.
The NiMH batteries, as he referred to them, have a better safety track record. But the switch would require a lengthy re-certification process.
Sadoway says Boeing's choice of the lithium-ion battery was consistent with the airplane maker's goal to reduce the 787's weight, thus saving money on its cost of operation. But, as even Boeing has learned, lithium-ion batteries are more prone to spontaneous combustion.
"In a large format battery, heat can be generated faster than it dissipates to the surroundings with the result that the temperature of the battery can rise to dangerously high levels which leads to bloating and ultimately fire," he told Forbes.
Short of replacing the batteries outright, Sadoway also suggests Boeing create vents in the battery box that allows them to dissipate heat, as well as install temperature sensors to ensure that batteries stay within a safe range.
Boeing is working with the FAA and NTSB to resolve the 787 battery issues. Boeing will not comment on their investigation until it's complete.
While "experts" and former NTSB members have speculated about a timeline for returning the Dreamliner to service, the current head of the NTSB will not comment on a time frame because so much is still unknown about the problem.
In an update Sunday, the NTSB said the 787 that experienced a battery fire earlier this month was delivered to Japan Airlines less than three weeks before the fire.
The Dreamliner was delivered December 20. It had only recorded 169 flight hours and 22 flights when the fire erupted in one of the airliner's two lithium ion batteries on January 7.
Boeing has shipped about 50 787s to airlines around the world including Japan Air, ANA, and United. The company has orders for 848 Dreamliners.
By LINDA THOMAS
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