Boeing: A Bothersome Battery Bungle

The flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been grounded worldwide, affecting around 50 of the new aircraft. The main issue that led to this FAA action were instances where onboard batteries overheated and either caught fire, or caused other components to catch fire. The incidents are under investigation and of course everyone wants to get this solved as quickly as possible; the FAA, Boeing and the airlines.

The batteries in question are similar in construction to those commonly used in notebook computers and hybrid electric cars; the lithium-ion type. They are batterylightweight (as far as batteries go), and so were sought for this application - but cooling problems seem to be the issue so far. Whether the batteries are switched for a different type, such as nickle-metal hydride (which are heavier), or the cooling is improved, any changes may require recertification - typically not a swift process.

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