Monday, January 21 11:44:36
U.S. and Japanese aviation safety officials investigating problems with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner visited the headquarters of the plane's battery maker today, seeking clues into why one of the technologically advanced aircraft made an emergency landing last week.
A spokesman for GS Yuasa Corp, which makes batteries for the 787, said the company was fully cooperating with the investigation, and its engineers were working with the officials from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB) at the company's compound in Kyoto, where it makes airplane batteries.
CAB official Tatsuyuki Shimazu told reporters the investigating team had been briefed by GS Yuasa and had toured the plant, looking at battery design, production and quality. The Japanese investigation at the plant will continue on Tuesday on a more detailed level, including tracking battery batch numbers and production dates, he said.
Authorities around the world last week grounded the new lightweight Dreamliner, and Boeing halted deliveries after a problem with a lithium-ion battery prompted an All Nippon Airways 787 into the emergency landing at Takamatsu airport during a domestic flight. Earlier this month, a similar battery caught fire in a Japan Airlines' 787 parked at Boston Logan International Airport.
U.S. safety investigators on Sunday ruled out excess voltage as the cause of the Boston battery fire on Jan. 7, and said they were expanding their probe to look at the battery's charger and the jet's auxiliary power unit. The battery is one part of the 787's complex electrical system, built by French company Thales SA.
"Results have shown the battery was abnormal in both the Boston and Takamatsu (incidents). They were the most damaged," Shigeru Takano, a senior safety official at the CAB, told reporters ahead of the on-site visit to GS Yuasa. "We will look into if the work that took place, from design to manufacturing, was appropriate."
Shares in GS Yuasa, valued at close to $1.5 billion, rose 1 percent on Monday, having dropped nearly 10 percent since the Boston fire. The benchmark Nikkei fell 1.5 percent.
The company, which employs nearly 12,300 staff, expects revenue of 288 billion yen ($3.2 billion) in the year to end-March - with only around 1 percent of that coming from its aircraft battery business. The company's batteries are used primarily in motorbikes, industrial equipment and power supply devices.
GS Yuasa, in which automaker Toyota Motor Corp has a 2.7 percent stake, reported an operating profit of around $160 million in the year to last March. (C ) Reuters