An overheating battery in a Boeing 787’s auxiliary power system is believed to have been responsible for the cockpit fire that broke out on the aircraft, which had parked up at Boston’s Logan Airport. A mechanic discovered smoke on board the Japan Airlines aircraft shortly after it landed from Tokyo. Passengers and crew had already disembarked.
Boeing released the following statement:
“As is standard practice within the industry, it would be premature to discuss additional details at this stage as the investigation is ongoing. However, nothing that we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events, which involved power panel faults elsewhere in the aft electrical equipment bay. Information about the prior events has been shared with the NTSB and they are aware of the details.
“Boeing is cooperating with the NTSB in the investigation of this incident. Before providing more detail, we will give our technical teams the time they need to do a thorough job and ensure we are dealing with facts, not speculation.”
The fire was the latest in a sequence of embarrassing incidents that have afflicted the Dreamliner. A previous cabin fire that occurred during a test flight led to a redesign of the 787’s electrical system, but United Airlines and Qatar Airways and, causing the grounding some of their aircraft in December following further electrical problems.
A United flight from Houston to Newark was forced to divert to New Orleans when a generator, one of six on the aircraft, failed.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker subsequently told a news agency: “One of our Dreamliners has the same problem that the United plane had and I am very disappointed in Boeing. We will demand compensation. We are buying planes from them to use them, not to put in a museum.”
Al-Baker appeared less concerned after the Boston incident, saying such teething problems affected any new aircraft program. Qatar is currently operating five 787s, the first deliveries in a firm order for 30 of the type plus 30 options.
However, JAL canceled a scheduled departure from Boston following a problem with a second 787, while fellow Japanese operator ANA also had to cancel a domestic 787 service this week following a braking problem. ANA, launch customer for the aircraft, has previously suffered issues with leaking hydraulic valves and pumps on its fleet of 17 787s.