Japan, U.S. officials continue probe of Dreamliner battery maker

TOKYO (Kyodo News) — Japanese and U.S. aviation authorities continued on Jan. 22 their probe into GS Yuasa Corp., the maker of lithium-ion batteries used in Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner jets grounded after a recent series of mishaps.

Dreamliner probe — U.S. and Japanese aviation experts at Takamatsu Airport examine an All Nippon Airways Co. Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Jan. 18, two days after the plane made an emergency landing at the airport in western Japan. Kyodo News photo

Dreamliner probe — U.S. and Japanese aviation experts at Takamatsu Airport examine an All Nippon Airways Co. Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Jan. 18, two days after the plane made an emergency landing at the airport in western Japan. Kyodo News photo

The authorities are looking into whether the batteries were designed in line with Boeing’s order by checking documents at the Kyoto-based manufacturer and the maker’s quality control for the batteries, according to Japan’s transport ministry.

The probe is being conducted following an emergency landing made Jan. 16 by a Dreamliner operated by All Nippon Airways Co. at an airport in western Japan after smoke appeared inside the aircraft during a domestic flight.

In a related development, the Japan Transport Safety Board took a CT scan of the plane’s charred battery at a Tokyo facility of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, creating computed tomography images of cross-sections of the equipment to find out the extent of damage.

Analysis of the battery was being conducted together with officials of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, who are visiting Japan for investigations into an electric fire on a Japan Airlines Co. Dreamliner jet at Boston airport earlier this month.

Officials of Boeing and Thales SA, a French military aircraft builder that designed the 787’s electrical system, observed the process.

After conducting necessary tasks at the space agency facility through Jan. 23, the battery will be disassembled at a GS Yuasa facility for more detailed investigations of each lithium ion battery cell inside, the Japanese safety board said
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Officials of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said Boeing has presented to the ministry and to the FAA remedial measures for Dreamliner fuselage in response to the problems with the aircraft operated by JAL and ANA, while adding that they cannot reveal the content of the measures.

On Jan. 21, the first day of the on-site inspection of GS Yuasa, the authorities questioned officials of the manufacturer about the batteries’ design and production processes as well as looked into the production line at its plant.

Separately, ministry officials were dispatched on Jan. 22 to Britain to visit the maker of a fuel cap valve suspected of causing a fuel leak on a JAL Dreamliner jet at Narita airport, east of Tokyo, on Jan. 13 and observe efforts to find out what caused the leak.

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