In January, two batteries failed on Boeing 787 jets, causing smoke in one and a fire in another. The batteries were lithium-ion batteries, which carry fire risks if they are improperly charged.
Now we have learned that one of Boeing's operators, All Nippon Airways, replaced up to 10 of the Dreamliner batteries in the past few months. This means that Boeing likely knew there was an issue with the batteries before regulators were forced to ground the jets.
The operator did not believe the batteries to be a safety issue and was not obligated to report the battery replacements to safety officials. Yet, the reasons for the battery replacements are concerning and mimic what occurred on the airlines that were grounded. Five of the batteries had low charges and three of them failed to start. Japan Airlines also admits to replacing multiple batteries in the seven planes they operate.
Thankfully and luckily, no one was seriously injured by the defective batteries. This is not always the case in airplane travel. If Boeing knowingly used defective parts in its planes and those defective parts caused injury, it would be fully liable for any injuries or deaths caused by the defects.
While lawsuits against the major airplane companies are uncommon, they are not unheard of. As you can see with the Boeing 787 issues, it is possible for a company to make a monumental mistake that puts our lives at risk -- and then ignore the indications that a mistake has been made.
To learn more, please visit our page on commercial airline accidents.
Source: The New York Times, "Boeing 787 Battery Was a Concern Before Failure," Christopher Drew, Hiroko Tabuchi, Jad Mouawad, Jan. 29, 2013