Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Boeing probe shifts to monitoring system


Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets, including two painted with All Nippon Airways livery, are parked at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on Jan. 17.

Photo: Reuter

The joint US and Japanese investigation into the Boeing 787’s battery problems has shifted from the battery-maker to the manufacturer of a monitoring system.

Japan transport ministry official Shigeru Takano yesterday said the probe into battery-maker GS Yuasa was over for now as no evidence was found it was the source of the problems.

Ministry officials yesterday said they would inspect Kanto Aircraft Instrument Co as part of the ongoing investigation. It makes a system that monitors voltage, charging and temperature of the lithium-ion batteries.

All 50 of the Boeing 787s in use around the world are grounded after one of the jets operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA) made an emergency landing in Japan earlier this month when its main battery overheated.

Also earlier this month, a battery in a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire while parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

GS Yuasa shares jumped on the news it is no longer being investigated, gaining nearly 5 percent in Tokyo trading. The issue had plunged 12 percent after the battery problems surfaced in Japan.

Ministry officials stopped short of saying that Kanto’s monitoring system was under any special scrutiny, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation.

“We are looking into affiliated parts makers,” Takano said. “We are looking into possibilities.”

Japanese carrier ANA was the “launch customer” for the 787, and has been forced to cancel services — 643 domestic flights through Feb. 12, affecting 69,000 passengers, and 195 international flights through Feb. 18, affecting 13,620 passengers.

Japan Airlines, which has fewer 787s than ANA, has deployed other aircraft in its fleet, minimizing its flight cancellations.

Boeing, which competes against Airbus of France, has halted 787 deliveries.

Boeing has orders for more than 800 of the Dreamliner planes.

Analysts say customers will not come back to the 787 unless its safety is solidly assured.

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