Boeing 787 has electrical fire
BY JAY LINDSAY Associated Press
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
1/08/13 at 7:08 AM
BOSTON - An electrical fire filled the cabin of a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 with smoke Monday minutes after passengers disembarked following a non-stop flight from Tokyo.
The Massachusetts Port Authority's fire chief, Bob Donahue, said the fire at Boston's Logan Airport began in a battery pack for the plane's auxiliary power unit, which runs the jet's electrical systems when it's not getting power from its engines.
Fire crews using infrared equipment found flames in a small compartment in the plane's belly and had the fire out in about 20 minutes, he said. There was a flare-up later when a battery exploded, he added.
"Something caused this battery pack to overheat, ignite," Donahue said, adding it's too soon to know the cause.
The flight landed normally at about 10:15 a.m. Its 173 passengers and 11 crew members had already gotten off the jet when a mechanic spotted light smoke in the cockpit and cabin about 15 minutes later and notified Massport.
"When we arrived, it was a heavy smoke, and that was in three minutes, so this was advancing," Donahue said.
The mechanic was the only person on board when the fire broke out. One firefighter had skin irritation after contact with a chemical used to douse the fire, Donahue said.
The 787 is Boeing's newest plane, and the first was delivered in late 2011. In November 2010, a test flight had to make an emergency landing after an in-flight electrical fire. The fire delayed flight tests for several weeks while Boeing investigated.
Last month, a United Airlines 787 flying from Houston to Newark, N.J., diverted to New Orleans because of an electrical problem with a power distribution panel. No one was injured.
The 787 uses two lithium ion batteries - including one for the auxiliary power unit, according to a Boeing guide for firefighters dealing with the 787.
The rechargeable batteries, widely used in consumer devices, have some pilots worried because batteries being shipped as cargo are suspected to have caused or contributed to the severity of fires in cargo planes.
When Boeing proposed using the batteries in the 787, the Federal Aviation Administration issued special rules, including a requirement that they be designed to prevent overheating.
The FAA noted in its 2007 rule that, "In general, lithium ion batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure. ... The metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion."
Original Print Headline: Electrical fire ignites on Boeing 787
A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet is surrounded by emergency vehicles while parked at a gate at Logan International Airport in Boston on Monday. A small electrical fire filled the cabin of the JAL aircraft with smoke about 15 minutes after it landed. STEPHAN SAVOIA / Associated Press