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19 May 2013

JAL 787 damaged by battery fire apparently needed extensive repairs

After an ANA and JAL 787 aircraft experienced battery fires in January 2013, the entire fleet of 49 aircraft was grounded while the problem was diagnosed and an acceptable plan for fixing returning the aircraft to service was developed. While Boeing did come up with a repair plan that was acceptable to the FAA, it appears that the JAL 787 that experienced a battery fire in Boston had to also go through a very extensive set of repairs before it could return to service.

Electrical system changes
As described in an earlier article, Boeing and the battery manufacturer have made a number of FAA-required changes to the 787, including the installation of a redesigned battery, that the FAA estimated would take about 113 work hours to complete.

Several media outlets, including the BBC and New York Times, reported that during an interview in late April 2013, Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, stated that the Boeing modification kit would take about five days to install. Given the estimate of 113 work-hours from the FAA, that implies that a small team of maintenance personnel could put the aircraft back in service within that time frame. However, for the JAL aircraft that caught fire in Boston, that has clearly not been the case.

The aircraft has been grounded in Boston since its APU battery caught fire on January 7th, and was still on the ground at least until May 12th, over two weeks after the first updated 787 returned to service. The aircraft was parked outside near one of the airport terminals, and could be easily seen from several public vantage points.

As you can see the photo below, there was a large tent erected next to the 787, presumably associated with the aircraft repair. According to one eyewitness, a second, similarly sized tent, had been recently removed, and had be in place for a number of days.

No public reports of repair efforts
Although the NTSB has an ongoing major investigation associated with the 787 battery fire event, no final report has been published, and the information currently on the NTSB site does not mention any significant damage to the aircraft beyond the structures and systems close the battery that caught fire. Neither Boeing, JAL, or Massport, the organization the manages Boston's Logan Airport, have released any statement to the public about any significant additional aircraft damage.

Share what you know
If you have direct knowledge of what may have been going on with the JAL 787 in Boston, specifically details about any repairs that may have been performed on this grounded 787, please feel free to contact at

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