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Originally published Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM

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787 battery maker said to boost quality testing on GM, Ford advice

GS Yuasa, Boeing’s supplier of lithium-ion batteries for its 787 Dreamliners, tightened quality checks after the plane-maker sought advice from other companies that use the technology.

Bloomberg News

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Boeing’s supplier of lithium-ion batteries for its 787 Dreamliners tightened quality checks after the plane maker sought advice from other companies that use the technology, said five people with knowledge of the matter.

Boeing tapped Ford, General Motors, General Electric, United Technologies and others to provide expertise after battery faults grounded the global 787 fleet on Jan. 16, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.

GS Yuasa, the supplier, has doubled the number of its tests on the advice of a panel created by Boeing with officials from some of the companies, one person said.

The panel, along with engineers from Boeing, GS Yuasa and Thales “identified improvements that could be made to the battery, the battery system and the airplane installation that would provide three distinct layers of protection,” said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel. “Among the items in this comprehensive set of solutions were improvements to the production process.”

Automaker representatives on Boeing’s panel examined Yuasa’s testing protocol and were surprised to learn more than
90 percent of batteries were passing quality control, said two people with knowledge of the matter. In the electric-vehicle industry, that figure is around
60 percent, they said.

Yasushi Yamamoto, a spokesman at Kyoto, Japan-based GS Yuasa, declined to comment. The Japan Transport Safety Board said March 5 it had ended testing of the batteries and hadn’t found anything “notably unusual.”

Ford and GM declined to comment on assistance to Boeing.

Boeing “reached out to a variety of industry experts, including GE, but not limited to us,” David Joyce, CEO of GE Aviation, said in an interview last month. “They’ve assembled a group of very high-technology people to help them and just to share expertise.”

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