NTSB Plans 'Urgent' 787 Battery Tests

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The FAA already has approved a fix to allow operators to re-launch the 787 fleet within weeks, but meanwhile the NTSB is still searching for the root cause of the battery problem. In a solicitation notice posted online Friday, the board said it is planning to conduct "teardown examinations as soon as possible of several aircraft batteries" similar to the one involved in the 787 battery fire in Boston. The "urgent requirement" will include CT scans of the batteries to be conducted both before and after the batteries are subjected to testing. "Since the FAA has recently approved a plan intended to result in the Boeing 787 being approved for a return to service, the information from these tests (and the CT scans required to support these tests) is needed as soon as possible," says the notice. The board said it requires the "fastest possible receipt of this information to avoid potential future accidents involving this type of aircraft battery."

The notice states that the board expects to award the contract for the work to Chesapeake Defense Services, "based on their unique technical qualifications as the only known vendor that has the capability to provide the required scans, that is within the required locality requirement, and has the availability within the required timeframe to complete the scans." The tests must be conducted at a location close to Washington, D.C., so the NTSB can transport the batteries to the contractor, since they are subject to shipping restrictions that could cause delays and other logistical complications. On April 26, Ethiopian Airlines launched the first 787 revenue flight since the fleet was grounded in early January.