Boeing engineers and federal regulators appear to have vastly underestimated the possibility of a lithium-ion battery fire before the 787 Dreamliner was certified.
An interim report released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board said Boeing engineers believed an incident like the Jan. 7 fire on a Japan Airlines plane at Boston's Logan International Airport had a probability of happening just once in a billion flight hours. So far, the 787 fleet has logged approximately 52,000 hours and has already had two incidents in which batteries were burned.
A fire captain who responded to the Boston fire "reported that the battery was hissing loudly and that liquid was flowing down the sides of the battery case," the NTSB said in its 48-page report. "He heard a 'pop' sound," and smoke began pouring out of the electronics equipment bay. The captain "received a burn on his neck when the battery, in his words, 'exploded.'"
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