Lithium Battery Short Circuited in Boston Plane Fire

The manufacture of lithium-ion batteries allowed contaminants and other defects in batteries aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes, including one battery that erupted in smoke and fire in Boston in 2013, reports USA Today.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined in a 110-page report that a short circuit within one cell cascaded throughout a battery and caused the fire in a Japan Airlines plane parked in Boston on Jan. 7, 2013.

The problem resulted from Boeing’s failure to design for the most severe effects of a short circuit, and from the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to identify the problem while certifying the plane, according to the NTSB report.

The precise cause of the short circuit has never been found in the Boston incident or a similar smoldering battery Jan. 16, 2013, that prompted an All Nippon Airways flight to make an emergency landing in Japan.

But after FAA grounded the planes for three months, Boeing redesigned the batteries with ceramic insulation between the cells, a steel box to contain any short circuit and a tube to carry smoke and flammable electrolytes overboard.

In March 2014, Boeing and FAA declared the Dreamliner safe after a comprehensive review of its certification.

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