Saturday, July 13, 2013

AAIB: Batteries did not cause Ethiopian 787 Event

The UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch sent out a press release essentially exonerating the 787 lithium ion batteries in the smoke/heat/fire incident at Heathrow yesterday.  The aircraft was pulled into a remote hangar where investigators will try and understand what happened and why.

Thus far there has been a lot of speculation but we do know that there was smoke throughout the cabin and heat damage in the rear crown area.  The Ethiopian Dreamliner was not equipped with a crew rest area nor where there air conditioning pack in the area of the fire.  There has been speculation that this fire may have been intentionally set and even though the chances are highly remote it has not been discounted.

I do think that the AAIB along with the NTSB and FAA should be able to get to the how and why within a few weeks.  In  the meantime, 787 customers including Ethiopian continue to operate the 787 and Boeing continues production and flight testing.

Here is the text of the AAIB's July 13th press release:

Date: 13 July 2013

Serious Incident to Boeing 787-8, ET-AOP,

at London Heathrow Airport on 12 July 2013

 Date & Time: 12 July 2013 at approx 1550 hrs UTC

Location: London Heathrow Airport
Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-8
Operator: Ethiopian Airlines
At approximately 1550 hrs UTC on 12 July 2013 a Boeing 787-8 of Ethiopian Airlines, registration ET-AOP, suffered an event at London Heathrow whilst the aircraft was parked on stand, with no persons on board. The initial witness and physical evidence shows that this event resulted in smoke throughout the fuselage and extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage.

In exercise of his powers the Chief Inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has ordered that an investigation into this serious incident be carried out, in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996 and the Standards and Recommended Practices of Annex 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The sole objective of the investigation is to determine the causal and contributory factors of this serious incident, with the intention of preventing a recurrence. It is not the purpose to apportion blame or liability.

In accordance with these international standards and recommended practices, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), USA, representing the State of Design and Manufacture, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Ethiopia, representing the State of Registry and Operator, have been invited to appoint Accredited Representatives to participate in the investigation, along with advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Ethiopian Airlines. The AAIB has also invited the participation of the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) as advisors to the investigation.

This team, under the direction of the AAIB, has initiated the technical investigation into the event. The aircraft is currently located in a hangar at London Heathrow. There has been extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft, and the initial investigation is likely to take several days. However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship.


TravelingMan said...

I've heard that it may have to do with a coffee pot or something left plugged in. But the media reports that all power was shut off on the aircraft. So where would the power come from to overheat a coffee pot? (not assuming that that was the cause, but as a hypothetical scenario). Anybody know?

Andrew Munsell said...

I have heard coffee pot and possible intentional fire being started but it is too early to know. When do you think we will know the status of the bird as being written off or to be repaired?

Uresh said...

In terms of a decision with regards to what happens to the airframe after the AAIB is done with it, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a decision within 2 weeks. First comes the AAIB investigation though. I'm sure the Boeing engineers are looking at it and trying to ascertain if it's economically viable to repair.

Andrew Munsell said...

Ok, thanks

TravelingMan said...

1coolguy1 said...

I have looked at 787 flights on Flight Tracker and it's been very odd - at any one time ANA has only 2-4 787's in the air, even though they have had at least 17 delivered.

Is ANA still concerned about the 787's safety?

Right now there are only (2) flying of the 18 flying.

larmeyers said...

Hey 1C1, There are 4 as I write, but take a look at "787" in addition to B788. ANA puts their domestic (japan) flights there. There are 6 ANA there now. You can find some China Southern and LAN there at times as well. It seems like they are utilizing the fleet.

1coolguy1 said...

Will do - Thanks larmeyers

David Cummings said...

Why havent we seen any deliveries since the beginning of the month does anyone know?

1coolguy1 said...

Looking at JAL flight 8, Narita to Boston, why does the plane travel way north over Anchorage then down to Boston when the 2 airports are at almost the same latitude?

Seems it would fly almost directly east and this route is much longer.

Why is this route flown?

Uresh said...

Polar Routes are shorter and more fuel efficient

TurtleLuv said...

1coolguy1, it's due partially to the great circle distance. google it, or get a globe and a piece of string and connect the two points. it'll become apparent.

For example:

weather and air currents can also affect the path.