A number of media outlets are reporting that yesterday’s fire on a parked (and empty) JAL 787 at Boston Logan Airport point to a battery that is used to start-up the APU, or auxiliary power unit.
If this is true, it’s an important distinction. While a battery fire could happen at anytime, the auxiliary power unit is built to power the plane when it’s parked and the engines are off, not when the plane is flying, making it unlikely to cause a problem in-flight. Not impossible, but less likely.
I suspect it will be some time before we get definitive answers from NTSB, Boeing or others. But, the fact that we’re just about 24 hours into this and there’s been no new direction from the FAA on inspecting or grounding 787s is a good (but early) sign that this may not be a major issue.
The 787 remains my favorite plane to fly and my hopes are that this incident doesn’t slow down future deliveries to eager airline customers.