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Boeing jet battery maker under scrutiny

GS Yuasa, the Kyoto, Japan, maker of lithium ion batteries that have caught fire in Boeing’s grounded 787 jets, said it is cooperating with US and Japanese investigators.

Kyodo News via Associated Press

GS Yuasa, the Kyoto, Japan, maker of lithium ion batteries that have caught fire in Boeing’s grounded 787 jets, said it is cooperating with US and Japanese investigators.

TOKYO — Japanese and US investigators began a probe Monday into the maker of the lithium ion batteries used in Boeing’s grounded 787 jets.

Tsutomu Nishijima, a spokesman for GS Yuasa, the battery manufacturer, said investigators visited the company’s headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, and that Yuasa was cooperating with the probe.

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All 50 of the 787 Dreamliners that Boeing has delivered to airlines were grounded after an overheated battery forced the emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways 787 flight last week in western Japan. Boeing has halted deliveries of new planes until it can address the electrical problems.

Monday’s investigation involved a factory tour, with deeper studies into product quality and other issues to follow as the probe continues, said Tatsuyuki Shimazu, the chief air worthiness engineer at the Civil Aviation Bureau’s Aviation Safety Department.

Two investigators from the US Federal Aviation Administration and an investigator from Japan’s government were conducting the probe into how the batteries are assembled and into any quality issues, he said.

The burned insides of the ANA battery showed it received voltage in excess of its design limits. However, a battery that caught fire in a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in Boston earlier this month was found not to have been overcharged.

US investigators said there could still be problems with wiring or other charging components. National Transportation Safety Board investigators planned to meet Tuesday with officials from Securaplane Technologies Inc., manufacturer of the charger for the 787s lithium ion batteries, at the company’s headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., the board said.

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