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General Aviation Safety
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: Work with lithium-ion battery technology experts from government and test standards organizations, including US national laboratories, to develop guidance on acceptable methods to induce thermal runaway that most reliably simulate cell internal short-circuiting hazards at the cell, battery, and aircraft levels.
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 SC-225 included lithium-ion battery technology experts from government and test standards organizations. Your use of these experts is more fully addressed by Safety Recommendation A-14-36, which was not discussed in your September 20, 2018, letter. We hope to receive your response to that recommendation soon. We further note that you are revising Advisory Circular (AC) 20-184, “Guidance on Testing and Installation of Rechargeable Lithium Battery and Battery Systems on Aircraft,” to note that RTCA DO-311A is one means of complying with the special conditions regarding rechargeable lithium-ion battery systems. Until the revised AC is released, you will use issue papers to inform applicants of the effects of battery cells going into thermal runaway, and all current certification projects involving permanently installed lithium-ion batteries will use RTCA DO-311A and RTCA DO-347, “Certification Test Guidance for Small and Medium Sized Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery Systems,” as a means of compliance. Pending the release of the revised AC, Safety Recommendations A-14-33 and -34 remain 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.
We note that, once you have updated and published RTCA DO-311, “Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Ion Batteries,” you intend to update Technical Standard Order (TSO) C179A. We previously expressed our concern that aircraft installation factors might not be addressed in the RTCA document, given that DO-311 is a battery-level standard. We are aware, however, that on October 15, 2015, you published advisory circular (AC) 20-184 “Guidance on Testing and Installation of Rechargeable Lithium Battery and Battery Systems on Aircraft,” which provides manufacturers and installers with an acceptable means of compliance to meet the installation, operation, maintenance and airworthiness requirements for installation of lithium batteries on aircraft. Accordingly, pending our review of the updated TSO, Safety Recommendations A-14-32 and -34 remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), utilizing RTCA as an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, has been collaboratively working on updating the current RTCA DO-311, Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Ion Batteries. The draft revision to RTCA DO-311 is expected to be released in February 2016. Following the final revisions to RTCA DO-3 11, the FAA will update Technical Standard Order CI79A, Permanently Installed Rechargeable Lithium Cells, Batteries and Battery Systems. I will keep the Board in formed of the FAA's progress on these recommendations and update the Board by September 30, 2016.
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 FAA has been working with the RTCA to revise RTCA 00-311, which will address acceptable methods to induce thermal runaway that most reliably simulate cell internal short-circuiting hazards at the cell, battery, and aircraft levels. The RTCA is comprised of the FAA, foreign government authorities, and industry experts (domestic and international), including U.S. national laboratories.
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