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ANA president sees Boeing progress on batteries

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2013 at 8:19 am •  Published: March 1, 2013

"It is not an interim solution. This is a permanent solution," Conner said. "We are very hopeful that we will get the aircraft back in the air very soon."

Dreamliners were grounded after an overheated battery aboard an ANA 787 domestic flight forced an emergency landing in Japan on Jan. 16. Investigators are still probing the cause of that event, and of a Jan. 7 fire that erupted in an auxiliary power unit battery of a JAL 787 about a half-hour after the plane landed at Boston's Logan International Airport.

Boeing's plan, presented to U.S. regulators last week, calls for revamping the batteries to prevent potential short-circuiting from spreading from any one battery cell to others.

Officials in the U.S. said Boeing would fix the problem with the batteries overheating by having more robust ceramic insulation around each of the battery's eight cells so as to prevent any thermal runaway, a chemical reaction that leads to progressively hotter temperatures that was found in damaged batteries in JAL and ANA incidents.

"This solution takes into account any possible event that might occur," Conner said. "We see nothing in the technology that would tell us it's not the appropriate thing to do," he said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is considering the plan.

There are a total of 50 of the planes in service worldwide, and Boeing had orders for 800 of the airliners at the time they were grounded.

ANA has extended the cancellations of its 787 flights to May 31, with the total number of flights affected at nearly 3,600, involving some 167,820 passengers. JAL has cancelled its 787 flights through Mar. 30.