KING 5 TV (NBC Seattle) reports Boeing may have a fix for the battery issues on the 787.
Flight Global’s Steve Trimble has this historical perspective on battery technology over the decades. Free registration is required to Flight’s silly “Flight Pro” and then you have to navigate an incredibly annoying home page to find the bloody story. Good luck.
Boeing held its 2012 earnings call, and with it officials offered an update on the 787 situation.
Jim McNerney (CEO) (JM)
Greg Smith (CFO) (GS)
JM: 787 Update–
Job one on 787 is supporting the investigation on the 787 battery incidents. We rigorously support the process. We do believe good progress is being made in narrowing down the cause. Assigned hundreds of experts within Boeing, brought in outside experts, supporting NTSB, JTSB. We will get to the bottom of this and in so doing restore confidence in the 787. Thanks engineers and all others in investigation. We’ve seen the airplane in service for 15 months and it delivers on promises.
- Progress continues on 787-9, with assembly beginning in mid-2013. First customer delivery on schedule in early 2014.
- The case for the 787-10 has strengthened with a potential launch this year.
- We have more work to do on 777X and this is a big part of the focus this year.
- Our 2013 guidance assumes no significant financial impact due to 787 issues.
- Expect 635-645 deliveries this year, including 60 787s via rate hike and the reworked airplanes. Deliveries from Everett Mod center will decline.
BOeing released its 2012 financial results, provided guidance for 2013 and talked about the 787 issues in its press release here.
The webcast is at 10:30 ET and the launching page is here.
“Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return the airplanes safely to service with our customers. At the same time, we remain focused on our ongoing priorities of profitable ramp up in commercial airplane production, successful execution of our development programs, and continued growth in core, adjacent and international defense and space markets,” CEO Jim McNerney said in the release.
On January 16, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive that resulted in all in-service 787s temporarily ceasing operations. The company is committed to working with the FAA and other applicable regulatory authorities to return aircraft to service with the full confidence of customers and the traveling public. While production continues on the 787, the company is suspending deliveries until clearance is granted by the FAA, Boeing stated.
See this story in the New York Times.
The Seattle Times reports that there have been nearly 150 battery failures.
The Wall Street Journal has this article (subscription required).
What’s the cost of the 787 grounding? See this analysis.
The Harvard Business School has this analysis.
The Seattle Times has this report about Cessna using a different on-board system than Boeing to protect against ion battery fires.
Aviation Author and Boeing: Clive Irving, who wrote a book about the Boeing 747 and who is a prolific aviation writer, has a long piece about his experiences with Boeing over several decades. This thing-piece laments the changes to Boeing that occurred since the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas. It’s interesting perspective.
787 Grounding Timeline: A professor with MIT suggested the Boeing 787 could be grounded for a year. A 787 operator we spoke with says, “that’s bullshit.” Although the operator is as much in the dark as anyone else as to the cause of the JAL fire and the ANA smoking battery, his belief is that the airplanes could return to service as early as sometime next month. But he doesn’t really know.
Returning the 787 to service may be a bit of a problem for the FAA. It won’t do so until it is 1,000% assured the airplane is safe. We shuddered at the statement. We’re old enough to remember the disastrous 1972 presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) against Richard Nixon. McGovern picked Missouri Sen. Thomas Eagleton as his VP. Within days, it was revealed that Eagleton had suffered depression and underwent electroshock treatment.
McGovern said he was 1,000% in support of Eagleton. Days later, he dumped Eagleton and replaced him with Sargent Shriver. McGovern lost in a landslide.
Tell us how anything can be viewed as “1,000%” safe, or “1,000%” anything. We spoke with an engineer for a supplier on the 787, who told us that in engineering terms, they calculate the odds of something happening in some gobbledygook (to us) of something like one in 10th to the minus ninth power, or some such thing we haven’t a clue what it means–except that the odds against something happening are pretty darn long.
(If the preceding paragraph seems muddled, welcome to the club.)
Having stated that the 787 won’t be returned to service until the FAA is 1,000% sure it’s safe, how, then, can this silly thing be fulfilled? The answer, of course, is that it can’t, but the hyperbolic statement was made. Boeing, according to our information, is working on (and proposed) a series of interim steps to return the airplane to service, including inspections and checklists. Initially, we’re told, the FAA rejected this. Can Boeing come up with something acceptable? This remains to be seen. But more to the point, has the FAA painted itself into a corner?
Well, is this a government operation or is the Pope Catholic, or what? While we think that after the back-to-back battery incidents putting the 787 on the ground was prudent, we hope scientific reasoning rather than face-saving actions prevail going forward.
Remaking American Airlines: We’ve seen the new livery for American (and nobody we’ve talked to likes the tail). American said it is also doing new uniforms. As we review the news for Odds and Ends, we saw a headline, “American Airlines to Outfit Flight Attendants with Designer Uniforms.” There was a thumbnail photo to the left, too small for detail but clearly this was no F/A uniform we’d ever seen before. Holy cow, we thought. Then we enlarged it:
Note: The NTSB Sunday said it still doesn’t know what caused the lithium ion battery to catch fire on the JAL Boeing 787.
Japan eased safety standards ahead of service, according to a news report.
Airbus officials are trying to keep a low profile during the focus on Boeing’s 787 lithium ion battery problems, but since the A350 XWB will also have this battery type, Airbus gets pulled into the story whether it wants to or not.
Airbus officials are concerned whatever the US Federal Aviation Administration decides is ultimately necessary for Boeing to fix the lithium ion problems and restore the 787 to service, it might have a knock-on effect to certifying the A350.
There are several issues: fire prevention; fire suppression; battery safety; risks and so on.
Although Airbus responded to some questions at its annual press conference, and has selectively talked about the Boeing situation since, it’s declined useful comment on some specific questions, notably about fire suppression.
We’re taking a break from the near-saturation coverage of the Boeing 787 that began when we stepped off our airplane in Amsterdam Jan. 16 (GMT) to find the ANA incident lighting up our BlackBerry.
We’re going to talk about another Boeing airliner, a classic airplane of which there were only 12 built and whose useful life was cut short by a World War: the 314, the famed Pan Am Flying Boat Clipper.
As Classic as the 314 Clipper became in aviation history, Boeing’s website is remarkably brief about it. Wikipedia isn’t much more effusive. But the airliner nonetheless evokes fascination. All 12 314s were destroyed or scrapped, yet there have been a couple of attempts to find a couple of the destroyed models–sunk in the Atlantic or Pacific–to recover and restore them. Here’s one such effort announced in 2005. This newsletter contains a wealth of history.
In addition to the usual histories and enthusiast books written about the 314, fiction writer Ken Follett penned one largely set on a westbound trans-Atlantic flight on the Clipper. Follett weaves fact with fiction and this war-time mystery is no different. While we found the book somewhat slow-reading, the descriptions of the challenges facing ocean flying in a slow, pre-war aircraft certainly give you plenty of understanding of what flying was like then.
But we weren’t satisfied with Follett’s description. And we knew how and where we could be. And when we went to Dublin on our recent trip, we make special plans to drive across lower Ireland to Foynes, three hours to the west, the port of entry and exit for Pan Am’s trans-Atlantic flying boat service. Here is the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, where there is a full size replica of the 314 fuselage, triple-tail plane and part of a wing.
MIT on 787 Grounding: MIT says the Boeing 787 might be grounded until 2014, according to this article in Forbes.
But we caution against drawing conclusions. At this point, the MIT guy is giving his best judgment but the NTSB hasn’t determined the cause of the JAL fire, nor what the failures of the related systems may or may not have been.