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On January 7, 2013, smoke was discovered by cleaning personnel in the aft cabin of a Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8, JA829J, which was parked at a gate at General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts. About the same time, a maintenance manager in the cockpit observed that the auxiliary power unit (APU)—the sole source of airplane power at the time—had automatically shut down. Shortly afterward, a mechanic opened the aft electronic equipment (E/E) bay and found “heavy smoke” and a “small flame” coming from the APU battery case.1 No passengers or crewmembers were aboard the airplane at the time, and none of the maintenance or cleaning personnel aboard the airplane was injured.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Review the methods of compliance used to certify permanently installed, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on in-service aircraft and require additional testing, if needed, to ensure that the battery design and installation adequately protects against all adverse effects of a cell thermal runaway.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Boston, MA, United States
Auxiliary Power Unit Battery Fire Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8, JA829J
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that you are reviewing the in-service performance and compliance methods used to certify permanently installed, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on in-service aircraft to determine design/installation and certification details. Your review, supplemented by a review of service difficulties, has not yet identified a need for corrective action. Pending completion of your review, Safety Recommendation A-14-35 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Daniel K. Elwell, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agrees that consistent and standardized test methods are necessary to facilitate certification of new aircraft designs that incorporate a permanently installed rechargeable lithium- ion battery. For new transport airplane certification projects, the FAA issues special conditions for applicants whose designs include rechargeable lithium-ion or other lithium based batteries. These special conditions provide adequate certification standards. The FAA worked with RTCA to approve a revision to RTCA 00-3 11 , Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Battery Systems, for large battery systems. On December 19. 2017, the RTCA released RTCA 00-3 11 A, which contains abuse tests that subject a single cell within a permanently installed, rechargeable lithium-ion battery to thermal runaway and demonstrate that the battery installation mitigates all hazardous effects of propagation to other cells and release of electrolytes, fire. or explosive debris outside the battery case. The tests will replicate the battery installation on the aircraft and be conducted under conditions that are considered to produce the most severe outcome. The FAA incorporated RTCA 00-311 A into the revision of Technical Standard Order (TSO)-C 179a. Permanently Installed Rechargeable Lithium Cells, Batteries and Battery Systems. TSO-C l79b was released on March 23. 2018 and is available at the following website: http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgTSO.nsf/0/67 FF4FD73B2DEF078625825F00716B87?0pen0ocument. On October 15, 20 1 5, t he FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) 20-184, Guidance on Testing and Installation of Rechargeable Lithium Battery and Battery Systems on Aircraft. to provide guidance for complying with the special conditions to meet the installation, operation, maintenance, and airworthiness requirement s for installation of lithium batteries on aircraft. AC 20- 184 invokes RTCA 00-31 1 and RTCA 00-347. Certification Test Guidance for Small and Medium Sized Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery Systems, and also provides guidance on how to obtain installation approval for permanently installed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and battery systems on aircraft. The FAA is revising AC 20-184 to invoke RTCA D0-31lA as one means of compliance to the special conditions regarding rechargeabe lithium-ion battery systems. Until the AC 20-184A revision is released, the FAA will utilize issue papers to inform applicants of the effects of battery cells going into thermal runaway. In the meantime, all current projects will utilize RTCA D0-31 l A and RTCA 00-347 as a means of compliance. The 17AA expects the revised AC 20-184A to be released in December 2018. The FAA is reviewing the in-service performance and methods of compliance used to certify permanently installed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on in-service aircraft to determine design/installation and certification details. This review, supplemented by a review of service difficulties, has not yet identified a need for corrective airworthiness action. We will continue to monitor permanently installed rechargeable lithium-ion battery system performance as part of our normal continued operational safety processes.
From the report number AIR-14-01 concerning the January 7, 2013, incident, involving a battery fire Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8, JA8297, at Boston Logan International Airport: As stated in section 1.8.2, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations A-14-32 through -36 to the FAA regarding (1) insufficient testing methods and guidance for addressing the safety risks of internal short circuits and thermal runaway and (2) the need for outside technical knowledge and expertise to help the FAA ensure the safe introduction of new technology into aircraft designs. On August 19, 2014, the FAA responded to these recommendations. In its response letter, the FAA stated that it has been working with RTCA Special Committee SC-211 to revise RTCA document DO-311, “Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Battery Systems,” to “capture all the enhancements and lessons learned” from the BOS incident, including the need for a test that subject a single cell within a lithium-ion battery to thermal runaway as a result of an internal short circuit. The FAA also stated that, until these revisions are completed, it would use the issue paper process to provide new design applicants with acceptable methods of compliance for conducting tests and analyses to address the potential failure effects of permanently installed, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The FAA further stated that it was surveying previous approvals of rechargeable lithium battery systems to determine those existing approved designs that require additional testing and/or analysis to ensure that they can mitigate all adverse effects of a cell thermal runaway. In addition, the FAA stated that it was setting up meetings with internal stakeholders to determine how best to implement Safety Recommendation A-14-36. The NTSB is encouraged that the FAA is taking steps to enhance RTCA document DO-311 but is concerned that aircraft installation factors might not be addressed in the document given that DO-311 is a battery-level standard. On the basis of the FAA’s actions, the NTSB classifies Safety Recommendations A-14-32 through -36 OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE pending review of future updates regarding the FAA’s progress in completing the recommended actions.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The B-787 incident identified opportunities to improve the testing and analysis used to demonstrate compliance to the Installed Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Rechargeable Lithium Battery Systems special conditions that were applied to the B-787 and other certification programs. The FAA is in the process of surveying previous approvals of installed rechargeable lithium battery systems to determine design/installation and certification program details. This information, combined with the outcome of research ongoing at the FAA Technical Center and within the industry, will be used to identify existing approved designs that require additional testing and/or analysis to ensure that they are adequately protected (mitigated risk) against all adverse effects of a cell thermal runaway.
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