NTSB to hold April forum, hearing on Boeing 787

The National Transportation and Safety Board will hold a forum and a separate hearing in April to keep the aviation community and public up to speed on its investigation of Boeing 787 battery troubles.

The information derived from the events will help the agency and “the entire transportation community better understand the risks and benefits associated with lithium batteries, and illuminate how manufacturers and regulators evaluate the safety of new technology,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB, said in a statement Thursday. Dates and locations were not announced.

Hersman’s remarks came as the agency released an interim factual report on its investigation of a Jan. 7 lithium-ion battery failure on a 787 operated by Japan Airlines. On Jan. 16, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Boeing 787s until the battery problem could be resolved. Boeing has since proposed a fix for the battery and is awaiting a response from the FAA.

The NTSB report did not pinpoint the cause of the Japan Airlines 787 battery failure. The 48-page report provides an account, down to the second, of the events of Jan. 7. It also includes findings from the examination of the battery and test results of related components as well as information on the FAA certification process of the 787 and its lithium-ion battery.

“Releasing an interim report provides a window into the significant investigative work that has been accomplished so far,” Hersman said.

Bloomberg News reported, meanwhile, that Boeing’s supplier of lithium-ion batteries tightened quality checks after the planemaker sought advice from other companies that use the technology, including Ford and GM.

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