The results of a probe into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will likely not be known for weeks, investigators have said, meaning the fleet will remain grounded for at least that long.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) chair Deborah Hersman declined to provide an update on the Japan Airlines probe findings ahead of an NTSB news conference set for Thursday.
“We’re probably weeks away from being able to tell people what happened and what needs to be changed,” Hersman told reporters. She said investigators were “proceeding with a lot of care” in probing the cause of a January 7 lithium-ion battery fire on a JAL 787 at Boston airport.
The most concerning issues uncovered in the probe so far were short circuits and thermal runaway, a chemical reaction that produces uncontrollably rising temperatures. “These factors are not what we expected to see in a brand-new battery,” Hersman said.
The battery problem on the JAL 787, and another battery incident on an All Nippon Airways 787 on January 16, led to the global grounding last month of all 50 Dreamliners in service. However, a Boeing 787 will conduct a one-time ferry flight today from Texas back to the Boeing plant in Washington, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The plane will carry no passengers, only the crew needed to operate the flight, and special attention will be paid to the battery before and during the flight, the FAA said.