Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Japan Finds No Problems at 787's Battery Supplier ; with Planes Grounded, Inquiry Moves to Maker of Monitoring System

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Japan Finds No Problems at 787's Battery Supplier ; with Planes Grounded, Inquiry Moves to Maker of Monitoring System

Article excerpt

Investigators said that they found no quality-control problems at the GS Yuasa plant but that the cause of the recent malfunctions is still unknown.

Japanese investigators studying the potentially flammable batteries that have grounded Boeing's 787 fleet wrapped up an on- site inspection at the batteries' manufacturer on Monday and said they would continue their inquiry at a maker of a device that monitors the batteries.

The Japanese Ministry of Transport said that for now, investigators had found no quality-control problems during an eight- day investigation at GS Yuasa, the Japanese company that supplies the 787's lithium-ion batteries, which are at the center of the inquiry. But officials said that the cause of recent battery malfunctions was still unknown and that GS Yuasa remained under investigation.

A lithium-ion battery overheated during a flight in Japan this month on a 787 operated by All Nippon Airways, prompting an emergency landing. That incident came days after another GS Yuasa battery aboard a parked Japan Airlines 787 caught fire at Logan International Airport in Boston. The incidents have prompted regulators worldwide to ground all 787s, and led Boeing to halt deliveries of the aircraft, nicknamed the Dreamliner.

It is still unclear whether problems lie with the batteries themselves or with another part of the plane's complex electrical system. On Monday, the Ministry of Transport said inspectors would start checks at Kanto Aircraft Instrument, which makes a monitoring unit that detects voltage, current, temperature and other vital parameters for the lithium-ion batteries aboard the 787.

"We do not know where the problems lie, so we are simply doing checks in order," said an official at the ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau who declined to be quoted by name, citing protocol. It was too early to say that GS Yuasa was off the hook or that inspectors would not be back at the battery maker for more checks, he said. "We have seen what we needed to see for now, and are moving on, but that does not mean that there was definitely no problem with the battery," the official said. …

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