The NTSB has taken an unusually visible, vocal posture in the investigations of the lithium ion battery problems of the B-787 . More than a year from the Boston Logan Airport event, the Board issued a twelve page set of recommendations, which primarily found that the FAA’s certification process failed to include a standardized thermal runaway test which was conducted in the environment where the battery would be located. Further the Board recommended that the FAA:
- Develop an aircraft-level thermal runaway test to demonstrate safety performance in the presence of an internal short circuit failure
- Require the above test as part of certification of future aircraft designs
- Re-evaluate internal short circuit risk for lithium-ion batteries now in-service
- Develop guidance for thermal runaway test methods
- Include a panel of independent expert consultants early in the certification process for new technologies installed on aircraft
While the FAA does not always follow up on such “guidance” it receives from this independent agency, much to its consternation, it is extremely likely that there will be actions in terms of review of the Part 25 standards. The inclusion of independent expert consultants is not novel; the FAA is already looked to such help from outside sources(International Aircraft Materials Fire Test Working Group (IAMFTWG) and its future Part 23 certification heavily relies on organizations like ASTM).
It will be interesting to see when/how the FAA responds and what it incorporates in its certification regulations and/or the myriad of other guidance which is provided.
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