SEATTLE - Boeing expects to begin test flights this weekend in an effort to find the cause of two 787 lithium ion battery meltdowns in January.

Yesterday, the company confirmed it will use the ZA005 jet, one of five 787 test aircraft based at Seattle s Boeing Field.

The battery will be closely monitored during the test flight. Voltage and other parameters could tip off engineers to any potential causes for the batteries that smoked and caught fire.

On Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said a battery fire in the aft electrical bay of a Japan Air Lines 787 in Boston originated in cell number six, and then spread to adjacent cells.

The NTSB says while they know the origin, they do not know the root cause of the problem. Cell six also suffered short circuits, but the NTSB has yet to determine if those shorts were the result of the battery overheating and breaking down, or some sort of manufacturing defect.

The JAL airplane was delivered by Boeing on December 20th. The battery fire occurred on January 7th while parked at the gate and 15 minutes after the plane s passengers and crews had gotten off.

A second case involving a smoking lithium ion battery in the forward electrical bay of an All Nippon Airways flight over western Japan on January 16th prompted the grounding of the world s fleet of fifty 787 Dreamliners.

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