Boeing 787 battery: Burned again

Boeing is working with Japan Airlines to service a plane after maintenance workers found its battery smoking.

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One of Japan Airlines's 787 jets. Kent German/CNET

Boeing says it is working with Japan Airlines to get yet another Boeing Dreamliner 787 up and running after maintenance crew members witnessed smoke coming from the battery Tuesday afternoon in Japan.

A Boeing spokesman said the issue is not related to last year's battery design problem, which grounded the entire fleet for months after batteries on two planes, including one from Japan Airlines, caught fire. Boeing eventually redesigned the battery compartment to address the batteries overheating.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is working with Boeing and the Civil Aviation Bureau of Japan to investigate the new battery malfunction, which happened at Narita International Airport.

Boeing acknowledged the incident and said it was working with the airlines to address the problem:

"We are aware of the 787 issue that occurred Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell. The issue occurred during scheduled maintenance activities with no passengers on board. The improvements made to the 787 battery system last year appear to have worked as designed.

We sincerely regret any impact caused to Japan Airlines and are working with them to return this airplane to service."

This is the first report of a cell failure after the redesign, and the new battery compartment was designed to "continue safe flight in the presence of a cell venting or a total battery failure," according to Boeing.

The maintenance crew saw the smoke and an unknown liquid coming from the main battery of one of its 787 jets just two hours before the plane was scheduled to fly from Tokyo to Bangkok, according to Reuters. The cockpit system indicated that there was an issue with the power pack and charging, according to the report.

The previous incident occurred roughly one year ago. Following the fire in January 2013, planes were grounded for three months while Boeing redesigned the battery compartment. The FAA approved the company's new plans in April.

Updated, 11:50 a.m. PT: Added FAA's statement.