Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 18, 2013

Lithium batteries central to Boeing's 787 woes

(Continued)

Shipments of lithium batteries are suspected of causing or contributing to the severity of fires that caused two cargo jets to crash since 2010.

Sinnett said Boeing has long been aware of possible problems with lithium batteries. However, he said Boeing had designed the plane with special safety precautions to prevent a possible battery fire and to contain a fire to a small area should one occur.

Neither GS Yuasa Corp., the Japanese company that supplies the batteries for the 787, nor Thales, which makes the battery charging system, would comment on the recent troubles.

Boeing and its customers will need to move quickly to resolve the problem. The aircraft maker has booked orders for more than 800 of the planes from airlines around the world attracted by its increased fuel efficiency.

The FAA order had airlines, flight crews and passengers scrambling to figure out what to do next. Stanislaw Radzio, the captain of a LOT Polish Airlines 787 that landed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago late Wednesday, told The Associated Press he wasn't sure when the plane would be heading back to Poland.

"We're grounded like everyone else," he said. "We are very unhappy with the situation."

He said he was told of the FAA decision during the flight from Warsaw. A captain and flight instructor at the Polish airline since 1999, Radzio said the 787 is the nicest plane he's ever flown.

A passenger on the flight, Taras Dukyn, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he was surprised when told of the grounding by reporters, but would be willing to fly the aircraft again if the problems were fixed.

"It's a really nice plane. Computers in every chair. It was comfortable, although I was a little hot," he said.

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Freed reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writers Herb McCann in Chicago, Elaine Kurtenbach and Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report.

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