Inquiries into the battery systems of the grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliner could take a long time, and the fix could be expensive, according to news reports citing experts and investigators.
The Japanese agency investigating a badly damaged lithium-ion battery that caused an emergency landing earlier this week are focusing on possible overheating from excessive electricity, Reuters reports. That could be similar to the cause of a battery fire in a 787 in Boston a week earlier.
There have been no reported direct links to United Technologies Corp. components, including the auxiliary power unit, made by Pratt & Whitney, and electrical systems made by UTC Aerospace Systems, formerly Hamilton Sundstrand.
“UTC Aerospace Systems will fully support Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration on the review of the 787 in-service issues. Our systems are designed with several redundancies to ensure safety and we look forward to assist in any effort to resolve in-service issues,” UTC Aerospace spokesman Dan Coulom said Friday.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV Friday, Robert Crandall, the retired CEO of American Airlines, said the the cost to Boeing could be significant. “This is probably larger in scale for both Boeing and for the airlines because of the cost of the airplane,” he said. “This is Boeing’s largest and most important product probably for the next 15 years.”
The Dreamliner, with a base price of more than $200 million, is the first plane made almost entirely of composite materials. There are 50 in service but Boeing has orders for 850, Reuters reported. The aircraft’s development was delayed for more than a year due to various operational problems.
Industry consultant Gerhard Fasol told Forbes that a return to flight could take a long time because the FAA is requiring that Boeing and airlines “must demonstrate…that the batteries are safe,” and the battery, made by a Japanese firm, has never been used on commercial aircraft before. “It could be weeks, if not months, before they get to the bottom of this,” Fasol told Forbes.