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NTSB Says Lots Of Work Ahead For 787 Probe

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The head of the NTSB suggested the investigation into the cause of fires aboard two Boeing 787 airliners this month will be a protracted affair. Deborah Hersman said there is evidence the APU battery aboard a Japan Airlines Dreamliner short circuited and had indications of a thermal runaway but what really got the board's attention is that the protections in place to handle that scenario didn't work. "The investigation will include an evaluation of how a fault that resulted in a battery fire could have defeated the safeguards in place to guard against that," said Hersman. "As we learn more in this investigation, we will make recommendations for needed improvements to prevent a recurrence." It's not up to the NTSB to decide when the 787 will fly again. That's up to the FAA, which did not issue any statements on the latest NTSB news release. Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia, who spoke with AVweb earlier this week in a podcast interview, told Reuters the statements made by Hersman are not encouraging.

"It was hard to find a lot of optimism on the call. It sounds like they're still in the middle of a lot of hard work and a lot of mysteries," Aboulafia said in an interview with Reuters. "It just wasn't encouraging. Fire is the last thing you want on an airplane." Meanwhile, Boeing is continuing to build aircraft and is stockpiling them at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. So far, it's maintaining a cooperative public profile. "Boeing is eager to see both investigative groups continue their work and determine the cause of these events, and we support their thorough resolution," the company said in a statement.

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