Dreamliner battery blew up lab in 2006
25 January 2013
A devastating lab fire in Arizona in 2006 had shown the extreme hazard posed by Boeing's 787 Dreamliner lithium-ion battery if its energy was not adequately contained.
An explosion of a single battery connected to prototype equipment exploded in a lab in Arizona and though the fire-department mounted a massive response, the whole building burned down.
On the finished Dreamliners, however, Boeing is confident of the ability of its engineers to safely harness and contain that energy.
The 787's battery-fire protection regime is aimed at both making a catastrophic blowout impossible through multiple independent controls and also to compartmentalise any less serious battery meltdown, venting smoke outside until the high-temperature reaction burnt itself out.
The approach met the approval of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with special conditions attached.
Experts point out that All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 emergency last week pointed to Boeing's containment plan - even if the engineering was technically solid failing for airlines in actual operations.