FAA launches 787 system review

The Federal Aviation Administration today launched a review of the Boeing 787’s electrical system.

We start our coverage with a running synopsis of the press conference at 9:30am ET. Presenting are

Michael Huerta, director of the FAA (MH);

Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary (RLH); and

Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (RC).

RLH:

  • #1 priority is protecting the safety of the traveling public.
  • We go the extra mile when it comes to safety.
  • Today we are conducting a comprehensive review of the design and production of the 787, covering critical systems of the aircraft, including design, production and assembly.
  • Will look for the root causes of the recent issues be sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • FAA spent 200,000 hrs in advance of certifying aircraft.

MH:

  • Safety is our mission and take this responsibility very, very seriously.
  • From day one, we worked with Boeing to certify this aircraft. We believe this is a safe aircraft. To validate this aircraft, we will work with Boeing to review systems, production and design.
  • We will assure quality assurances are in place.
  • We want to look at entire picture, and a special emphasis on electrical systems, including battery, power and interaction with other systems.
  • Last month looked at pylons and fuel valves.
  • I want to emphasize 787 like all aircraft have numerous backup systems.
  • We are confident of the safety of this aircraft.

RC:

  • Almost 18 months ago 787 completed the most rigorous testing program in history.
  • We believe we’ve accomplished a safe aircraft in that process.
  • This process doesn’t stop.
  • As in every aircraft program, we’ve continued to ask the right questions.
  • We’re convening with the FAA to formalize the process that’s been going on every day.
  • Since entering service have logged more than 50,000 hrs of flights and safely delivered more than 1m passengers.
  • EIS is on par with 777 EIS.
  • It’s been more than 15 years since a new aircraft was certified and entered service in the United States.
  • Every new commercial airplane has issues when entered into service.
  • If this joint review with the FAA results in improvements with the 787, we’re happy to do this.

Q&A

  • MH: There is nothing in the data we have seen to suggest this airplane is not safe.
  • RC: On Outsourcing: this is not an issue of out-sourcing. We have complete confidence in our production system and designs. We have no reason to believe the airplane is not safe.
  • MH: On how this review will differ: We talked about an unprecedented certification process but we don’t stop there. As aircraft enters service we have ongoing evaluations to see how the airplane is operating, and address and focus on any issues. We’re getting technical experts together in Seattle to focus on production, design and quality processes to assure these issues don’t continue to happen.
  • RC: On going to far to fast on production ramp up: That has not been the case. We did an audit with the FAA in December in Everett and Charleston. Production ramp up is going quite smoothly, better than expected. I don’t think these issues have anything to do with ramp-up.
  • MH: On how deep to sub-contractors will be this review: Electrical systems have highest priorities, on what data tells us, and based on what we learn will take appropriate action.
  • MH: On potential design problems: As I said, nothing we’ve said says airplane is not safe. This review will validate what we’ve done.
  • MH: On whether this review will shake confidence in 787: We will bring whatever technical resources to do this review and take whatever action is necessary. Nothing we have seen suggests this airplane is not safe. RLH: We believe this airplane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations boarding this airplane and taking a flight.
  • MH: On how long this will take: First is to look at the systems, then production and manufacturing. As part of that we are looking wholistically is what the big picture looks like. This is a high priority for us and for Boeing and won’t speculate on timetable, but will do ASAP.
  • RC: ON how common is this: We are absolutely on par with 777. Our view is to get the airplane up to reliability and are focused on doing that. Once these instances happened, the airplane happened exactly as designed. We want root cause, corrective action. Our team wants to get to 100% reliability. We are committed to the safety of the flying public.
  • RC: What are recommendations for non-US countries: It doesn’t matter where the airplane is, we approach this exactly the same way for all airplanes, regulatory agencies and customers.
  • MH: On certification process: it’s a very extensive certification process and we don’t stop there. It’s continuous. We are driven by data. How we assess the data. This is a normal part of introducing a new aircraft into service.
  • RLH: On how important this new airplane so important: this airplane is different than any other airplanes. MH: the Dreamliner is a significantly advanced airplane and new technology, this is extremely important new airplane. We care about maintaining public confidence that this aircraft is safe. We are seeing issues with bringing any new technology to the public.
  • MH: On whether too much reliance on Authorized Representatives or go with more direct FAA oversight: The review will look at this, too.

Our take:

We’ve been involved in commercial aviation since 1979 and have followed its history pre-dating WWII. We don’t remember a recent case of a comprehensive review such as this since the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was grounded in 1979 following a crash at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The causes was ultimately traced to faulty maintenance and inadequate safety back-ups to prevent hydraulic failure.

In the history of aviation, new aircraft types have typically had in-service teething issues.

  • The 777 issues have been referred to by Ray Conner.
  • The 747-100 had non-safety related reliability issues, most notably with the temperamental engines.
  • The 727-100 went through a series of fatal crashes until new piloting techniques were identified and adopted that addressed the airplane’s sink rate.
  • The 707 and DC-8 had a series of issues after EIS that affected reliability.
  • The 737-100/200 thrust reversers initially were inadequate.
  • The Lockheed L-188 Electra had the design flaw called whirl mode that caused wing to sheer off in flight on two aircraft.
  • The Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation had design flaws leading to fires, fatal crashes and groundings.
  • The Martin 202 used a new metal alloy that was prone to early metal fatigue, causing the wing to sheer of in one fatal crash. The airplane was grounded.
  • The deHavilland Comet I was prone to metal fatigue, leading to two crashes and grounding. It also had operational issues that weren’t immediately recognized, leading to crashes due to flying techniques.

Although the DOT, FAA and Boeing characterized this as a continuation of normal processes, a full review of production and design is something that comes along on a rare basis, at least in our memory and reading of history.

We’ve been asked many times this week if we’d fly the 787, and the answer was and is yes.

Absent from today’s press conference, however, was any specific reference to any interim steps to inspect the lithium batteries and systems. We found this odd (and equally odd that this question wasn’t asked by reporters). We expected an Airworthiness Directive requiring inspections, or some announcement by Boeing of a Service Bulletin. We’ve sent an email to Boeing asking about this.

Update: Boeing replied that there is no AD or SB issued or pending.

Update: Ray Conner issued a message to employees today; here it is, from Boeing:

Our airline customers and their passengers worldwide put their trust in us every day as they fly on our airplanes. Since entering into service, the 787 has logged more than 50,000 hours of flight and has safely delivered more than one million passengers to destinations worldwide. More than 150 Dreamliner flights take place every day.  We remain absolutely committed to the safety and integrity of all our products and services.

Whenever a customer experiences any type of performance issue, we take it seriously and have a disciplined process for identifying the underlying cause and ensuring it doesn’t happen again. As more customers take delivery of the 787, we are experiencing some issues with the in-service performance as commonly occurs with a new program.

Our standard practice calls on us to apply rigorous and ongoing validation of our tools, processes and systems. Eighteen months ago, we completed the most comprehensive certification process in the history of commercial aviation on this airplane. We worked closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure its highest standards of product safety, quality, and integrity.

It’s important that our airline customers and passengers are assured that our products are safe and reliable. For this reason, Boeing and the FAA announced this morning that we will conduct a joint review of the 787’s recent issues and critical systems. We welcome the opportunity because our own standards, combined with the FAA’s regulations and oversight, are what keep this industry so safe.

We’ve definitely faced challenges during the 787’s entry-into-service; however, none of these issues have changed the fact that we are completely confident in the safety and integrity of the airplane. In fact, the 787 is performing on par to that of other successful airplane introductions into service, such as the 777 – one of Boeing’s highest performing twin-aisle products.

At Boeing, we have a pioneering spirit built on a culture of continuous improvement, which is why this joint review will be a beneficial process for both Boeing and the FAA. We are proud of the 787 – the world’s most advanced and innovative airplane.

66 comments on “FAA launches 787 system review

  1. “Our team wants to get to 10% reliability.” Hmmm, I think you may have a typo there. Shouldn’t that be 100% reliability?

    At this point, I still have more confidence in Boeing solving the problems than blah blah words from the political appointees of the DOT and th FAA.

  2. RC: “As in every aircraft program, we’ve continued to ask the right questions.”
    .. and now Ray, you’ll have to answer the right questions..

    RC: “Every new commercial airplane has issues when entered into service.”
    Yes, but the severity and amount of issues before and after this EIS (its hard to keep track) makes other commercial airplanes look smooth, in hindsight.

    RC: “If this joint review with the FAA results in improvements with the 787, we’re happy to do this.”
    Did they toast at the end of this press conference?

    Not Ray’s greatest office day ever.

  3. The noteworthy thing is how vague it all is. Presumably if they had a specific issue, the FAA could place an airworthiness directive or order of suspension. They obviously have concerns. There are references to issues needing to stop, while at the same time saying there is no need to worry. General concerns about the plane will more debilitating for Boeing from a PR point of view than a specific problem they can isolate and deal with.

    Bottom line for everyone: the issues need to stop.

  4. Just remember- all parts built and assembled by the lowest bidder.
    Now add to that the dropping of source inspection by Boeing ( saves a few more $$ ), and detail design by outsourced contractors. Meanwhile denigrate the old hands who have tribal knowledge gained over decades and no one should be surprised at the ongoing mess.

  5. “Absent from today’s press conference, however, was any specific reference to any interim steps to inspect the lithium batteries and systems.”

    Yes…

    I think the reason I described this rash of issues yesterday as something that concerns me is that we still don’t know if there’s a root cause for all this – and neither does anyone else, it seems!

    An awful lot of electrical issues to be just coincidence – enough to instigate an investigation, apparently – yet we still can’t identify and therefore monitor/correct the cause. Faulty circuit boards involved in some cases, but not all. Possible fault in batteries, or maybe battery wiring… If there *isn’t* a clear root cause then I’m afraid it looks more like a general large-scale quality control issue – which could be even worse!

    • If the root cause was just one or two parts, then an AD could be issued. But, since there is (apparently) no single, or group of parts involved, then the answer has to lie with the subcontractors and how (if?) they test every part before being shipped to Boeing. This is a QC/QA problem. The mid-shaft problem with the GEnx engines, both series, turned out to be a QA/assembly problem at a respected supplier, GE. So, it is very possible some small assembly operation in Mexico or Japan could also make the same mistakes.
      Boeing cannot possibly test every single part that comes to the FALs, that would be a huge slow down in producton. Airbus does not test every part from an outside supplier either. I’ll bet the contracts with these suppliers requires each part be tested before leaving their factory.

      • Well obviously – but that doesn’t absolve Boeing of ultimate responsibility for QA. If all the suppliers are letting faults through (not that I’m claiming that to be the case) then the QA plan is flawed.

        This applies to both manufacturing and design, whether outsourced or home-grown.

        In a way I’m now hoping it does turn out to be a single issue – even if it’s just that the electrical system doesn’t handle faults properly (ideally, all these foreign object / faulty boards, crossed wiring / overheating batteries should have quietly resulted in power being diverted and a nice little error message popping up – instead of things going bang). At least that way a relatively simple fix could be implemented and the cloud hanging over the 787 could dissipate again.

  6. “We’ve been asked many times this week if we’d fly the 787, and the answer was and is yes.”
    Scott, another question.
    – If you could choose between a 777 and a 787 for your next flight, do you have a preference?

    I think one thing is IMO clear: the FAA and Boeing do not agree on current reliability of the 787 electrical systems. Otherwise they wouldn’t start a review. Boeing didn’t ask for it..

  7. I think you are wrong, keesje. The FAA certified the electrical system on the B-787, they said it was safe and allowed the airplane to enter commerical airline service around the world. The FAA, and their certification process, is just as much under the microscope as Boeing is here. It was the FAA, in 2007, that allowed the use of Li-Ion batteries on the B-787.

    • KCT, I think Scott added this comment later:

      “MH: On whether too much reliance on Authorized Representatives or go with more direct FAA oversight: The review will look at this, too.”

      An mean one. FAA delegates certification too. Theybcan’t handle everything. E.g DAR’s. Usually old, experienced, well paid guys that sign off certification work on behalf of the FAA. Once I worked for a QA department and my fire alarm went off reading this..

  8. Add to the list 747 and DC10 cargo doors, 380 engines and wings, 330 pitot tubes, and every other modern plane which has had serious problems, some leading to accidents. This plane is introducing more cutting edge tech than ever before. So far, no crashes, injuries or deaths and none of the current rash of problems would have less to accidents. it’s like vultures doing lazy circles waiting with glee any problem so they get their long awaited I told you. And arbe, more than enough787 problems we’re caused in Seattle so don’t gloat quite yet.

    • Going by the BEA reports the Thales pitot tubes are no longer in the blame game.
      One core finding for AF447 was that the performance envelope as per certification
      was insufficient for the use case. The probes of all manufacturers met cert requirements.

      • .. that obviously kicks of another issue:
        As a manufacturer, can you rest on your laurels after having met cert requirements or do you have to keep up extended vigilance?

  9. The last sentence says it all:

    MH: On whether too much reliance on Authorized Representatives or go with more direct FAA oversight: The review will look at this, too.

  10. I seem to recall a different supplier problem that scared the heck out of me. Maybe we shouldn’t fly on planes that use this supplier.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/engineering/8590975/Rolls-Royce-settles-with-Qantas-over-A380-engine-explosion.html

    If Microsoft had made the 787 the pilot would be getting weekly “blue screens of death”.

    Introduction of new tech, in particular in a product with a lot of new technology the interaction of all of these new technologies introduces a lot of new results, some desired, some not.

  11. There is nothing more alarming than a fire on an a/p full of passengers in flight
    and JAL was just lucky the ELECTRICAL fire broke out AFTER landing on a
    long flight from Tokyo to Boston!
    How was it possible, that during the three+ year delay on the 787 program, due
    to stupidly managed outsourcing and NOTHING to do with the 787 electrical
    system, that the time wasn’t used by Boeing AND the battery producer, to make
    sure that the new high-voltage batteries on the 787, were 100% reliable!

  12. Few journalist have a 787 track record / authority like Jon Ostrower, “Flightblogger” now WSJ.

    From WSJ, with Jon contributing:

    – The FAA effectively will reassess Boeing’s quality-control safeguards in melding parts delivered by subcontractors around the globe.

    – Industry and government officials said the Dreamliner is the only commercial jetliner in decades to be subjected to such high-priority regulatory scrutiny after being approved to carry passengers.

    – The Chicago-based plane maker fought unsuccessfully for days to head off or deflect the announcement, according to people familiar with the details.

    – In the end, according to people familiar with the details, newly confirmed FAA Administrator Michael Huerta decided the escalating publicity surrounding a spate of electrical and other defects found recently on 787 airliners left him few other options.

    – Friday’s press conference also was unusual because Mr. Huerta and Mr. LaHood were joined by Ray Conner, president of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit. Regulators seldom announce such a major safety initiative flanked by the target of their review, let alone give company officials a chance to defend their procedures and respond to questions from the media.

    – United doesn’t plan to provide additional information to passengers about the review. The spokeswoman declined to comment about any passenger feedback that United has received about the planes. “We have full confidence in the aircraft,” she said.

    – Before the announcement, according to people familiar with the discussions, senior Boeing officials complained vigorously to the FAA and DOT that launching a review also could undercut passenger confidence in the planes.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324081704578235370985104146.html?KEYWORDS=JON+OSTROWER

    The stakes are very high. I wonder what the strong Boeing lobby in DC is doing as we speak.

  13. Rudy Hillinga :
    How was it possible, that during the three+ year delay on the 787 program, due
    to stupidly managed outsourcing and NOTHING to do with the 787 electrical
    system, that the time wasn’t used by Boeing AND the battery producer, to make
    sure that the new high-voltage batteries on the 787, were 100% reliable!

    Rudy, it is not possible to make Lithium-ion batteries 100% reliable. It’s the same with any other batteries; only worst, much worst, with li-ion. But the latter takes half the space and weighs correspondingly less. It was therefore selected to replace the standard aerospace Ni-Cad batteries that have been flying in commercial and military aircraft for decades.

    I can understand that Boeing or Airbus would want to go that route, because it makes their airplane more efficient. And that’s the name of the game nowadays. But what is beyond me is why the legal authorities let them do this on a long-range commercial aircraft.

    Like you have pointed out Rudy, there is nothing more dangerous than an inflight fire. Swissair Flight 111 is a dramatic example of the consequences of that. And its cause can easily be related to the Dreamliner serial electrical problems: arcing. With up to 1,45 MW of power in use (as opposed to 400 KW on an A330, and 600 KW on an A380) it is a potentially catastrophic accident waiting to happen.

    Boeing can always change the Li-ion batteries for Ni-Cad ones if they have to. But there is nothing they can do about the all-electric architecture. They will have to live (dangerously) with it for the rest of the program’s life.

  14. Normand Hamel :
    Boeing can always change the Li-ion batteries for Ni-Cad ones if they have to. But there is nothing they can do about the all-electric architecture. They will have to live (dangerously) with it for the rest of the program’s life.

    If they’ve designed for Li-ion then I very much doubt it’s practical to switch battery technology at this point… they would either have a lack of back-up energy or alternatively have to fit large extra battery packs somewhere – taking up space reserved for something else and adding unnecessary weight. That isn’t going to happen.

    • It is not up to Boeing or Airbus to decide. The public safety is at stake. What happened on the ground in Boston could have happened on the way in, over the ocean, with no survivors.

      When I wrote “if they have to”, I meant if the FAA issues an AD ordering them to change the design from Li-ion to Ni-Cad. I understand that it would not be an easy task. But it should be feasible. And it has become mandatory in my opinion. Of course the same would apply for the A350.

      But first, the FAA, like the rest of us, has to wait for the preliminary findings of the NTSB before it has a clear indication of which direction to go. We have to wait for the dust (and the smoke) to settle down before we know what is the right course of action to take. In the meantime, it is fair to say that the situation is preoccupying, not to say alarming.

      And Airbus may have to redesign its A350 installation as well. In which case it would seriously compromise any chance of a fist flight before the Paris Air Show.

    • Its a totally different design, but it uses the same basic Li-ion technology, which has become extremely popular despite its inherent danger.

  15. I will try this at home after the police writes me a ticket.

    “If this joint ticketing with the police results in improving our parking behavior we are happy to do this.”

    Strange looks from the wife.

    If you can’t convince them, confuse them.

    • I am still trying to figure out why Boeing was invited to “the show”. It might be an indication of the prestige and respect that Boeing commands, and the complacency that comes with it.

      • “The Chicago-based plane maker fought unsuccessfully for days to head off or deflect the announcement, according to people familiar with the details.”

        “Boeing officials complained vigorously to the FAA and DOT that launching a review also could undercut passenger confidence in the planes”

        The presence of Boeing, Conner allowed to answer questions, the secretary and FAA stating they are confident of the safety of this aircraft, all negotiated and agreed upon in the days ahead.

        Boeing no doubt threatened that if nothings irregular is found and its market position damaged they come back to come and the FAA is to blame too. We know how strong Boeing is in congress overturning Departments decisions (KC-X)

        At this moment and coming weeks Boeing is closely monitoring the fall-out of the fact the FAA does a review on Boeing and its 787.

  16. Uwe :
    The A380 already is pretty electric. Remember all those EHA, EBHA and electromechanical actuators.

    The Airbus approach is evolutionary. Boeing has created a revolution. A paradigm shift in commercial aviation. It’s an all-out approach.

    The power says it all: The much bigger A380 uses 600 KW of electricity compared to 400 KW for the A330. The Dreamliner, an intermediate size airliner, needs 1,45 MW. There are electric motors all over the aircraft.

    It does not happen very often that an airplane is destroyed in flight by a faulty hydraulic system. There are a few instances, like the 737 rudder reversal. But it has become a mature technology that we understand very well and that we have come to master. Pneumatic power is even less problematic. To want to get rid of those well proven technologies and replace them with electrical power is not vey wise in my opinion.

    Swissair Flight 111 brought to our attention, in a dramatic way, the dangers of increasing the amperage onboard aircraft. The trend that was starting at the time is the IFE revolution. The industrial production of the A380 was brought to its knees because of customized IFE systems permeating each aircraft. We never had so many wires onboard aircraft. We are therefore holding that many more tiger by the tail.

    When the Jet Revolution came about we gradually got rid of all those piston aircraft and replaced them with jets. That meant getting rid of highly explosive avgas and replacing it with the more benign kerosene. It was a step in the right direction in terms of safety. The all-electric concept is a step in the other direction.

    • IMHO, it makes little sense to go “all electric” until the vehicle itself is powered by electric motors in cruise, instead of conventional turbofan engines. Conceivably, hybrid electric turbines could be used for the high-power requirements during take-off while electrical power is used for cruise and descent. Electric motors would be significantly more efficient and robust than conventional turbofan engines and would not lose power at altitude; and of course, they are emissions-free. Fuel cells are already close to becoming a viable option to generate electricity for the more electric aircraft architecture present in the A380 and 787. Fuel cells are also modular and theoretically any voltage or power can be produced by a series and/or parallel configuration of stacks of cells. Since liquid hydrogen has nearly four times the volume for the same energy output as kerosene, a hydrogen powered BWB airliner seem to fit hand-in-glove since a significant part of the big fuselage volume can be used to store liquid hydrogen. Of course, the performance of a liquid hydrogen-fueled aircraft would be a trade-off between the larger wetted area (i.e. more drag) and the lower weight of the liquid hydrogen fuel.

      One such concept:

      The following study was undertaken on the assumption that hydrocarbon-based fuels may not be acceptable in the very long term, because of environmental concerns. A possible future fuel is hydrogen, and this study explores a novel proposition for a civil airliner using hydrogen fuel. The technical challenges of this preliminary investigation were: a) the integration of an electric power plant (Fuel Cell) into a Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft, and b) to investigate the possibility of reducing the aircraft’s profile drag by boundary layer re-energization. For the re-energization of the boundary layer and for propulsion during cruise, the study considered High-Speed/High Specific Power (HS/HSP) motors, situated at the trailing edge (TE) of the center body, driving fans. Re-energizing the boundary layer of the center body, would reduce the profile drag of the aircraft and hence, the total fuel burn. The take-off requirements of the aircraft were met, by high by-pass ratio (BPR) turbofan lift engines, operating on hydrogen, for a V/STOL (Pachidis, 2000b).

      http://asmedl.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=ASMECP00200203607X000853000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes&ref=com

    • Dreamliner regular operating modus will be 2 generators for 2 independent VF AC busses.
      One for each bus. IMHO and all that jazz.
      You can not bring more than one generator online on a single VF AC Bus.
      Independent of the cheap arithmetic games Boeing does that limits available power at any time to 2 times 250kVA. The other 4 generators are redundancy.
      On the flight control side I stand with my position that Airbus is further along and has designed a less complex system ( better orthogonality ).
      This revolution imho is a wet firecracker.

      • It certainly looks like the bleedless philosophy Boeing adopted for the 787 is too much hassle for very little gain (if any gain at all), and that the traditional electro-pneumatic bleed system incorporated on the A350 is, in fact, a highly prudent design choice.

        At the present time, the double-hydraulic/double-electric (2H/2E) flight-control architecture and the variable frequency electrical generation system philosophy that Airbus developed first for the A380, and which now is being used on the A350, in addition to the usage of conventional bleed air systems, is IMO a well balanced architecture.

        If an aircraft would be powered by electrical motors, then it makes sense to go “all electric”.

  17. keesje :
    The presence of Boeing, Conner allowed to answer questions, the secretary and FAA stating they are confident of the safety of this aircraft, all negotiated and agreed upon in the days ahead.

    The presence of Boeing at the announcement undermined the FAA’s authority. They all looked like bed fellows.

    keesje, you portray the FAA like if it was afraid of Boeing. And you might be right. But should it not be the other way around? Unless the FAA is afraid to uncover its own complacency.

  18. I think I’ve found the smoking gun as to why the FAA launched a special investigation

    Boeing 787 Special conditions related to Li-ion batteries:

    This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features
    of the 787. It is not a rule of general applicability.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping
    requirements.

    The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

    The Special Conditions

    0
    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the
    Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of
    the type certification basis for the Boeing Model 787-8 airplane.
    In lieu of the requirements of 14 CFR 25.1353(c)(1) through (c)(4),
    the following special conditions apply. Lithium ion batteries on the
    Boeing Model 787-8 airplane must be designed and installed as follows:
    (1) Safe cell temperatures and pressures must be maintained during
    any foreseeable charging or discharging condition and during any
    failure of the charging or battery monitoring system not shown to be
    extremely remote. The lithium ion battery installation must preclude
    explosion in the event of those failures.
    (2) Design of the lithium ion batteries must preclude the
    occurrence of self-sustaining, uncontrolled increases in temperature or
    pressure.
    (3) No explosive or toxic gases emitted by any lithium ion battery
    in normal operation, or as the result of any failure of the battery
    charging system, monitoring system, or battery installation not shown
    to be extremely remote, may accumulate in hazardous quantities within
    the airplane.
    (4) Installations of lithium ion batteries must meet the
    requirements of 14 CFR 25.863(a) through (d).
    (5) No corrosive fluids or gases that may escape from any lithium
    ion battery may damage surrounding structure or any adjacent systems,
    equipment, or electrical wiring of the airplane in such a way as to
    cause a major or more severe failure condition, in accordance with 14
    CFR 25.1309(b) and applicable regulatory guidance.

    1,2 & 3 seem to be breached by the Boston event.

    The FAA had to get in first before the press rumbled that the 787 breached its certification requirements.

    • The FAA had to launch an inquiry for two reasons:

      1- It was obvious, even for the casual observer, that the Boston incident could have happened in flight.

      2- The incident occurred within the context of a string of worrisome electrical malfunctions, along with other spectacular troubles that would normally be perceived as “teething problems”; and all this to an aircraft that was already under public scrutiny because of all the bad publicity it had garnered before and since its entry into service.

      • Similar requirements. However I can imagine Batteries for emergency lighting are different. The frequencies of charging and amount of energy used while discharging for starting an APU are possibly different. So maybe similar at first sight, but apples/oranges after a second look. No doubt every user of these batteries will have a second look though, I think the A400M has them too.

  19. IMO the FAA and EASA should be skilled, bureaucratic, uncooperative, independent, inflexible, well paid civil servants, backed by their governments/ the people.

  20. Normand Hamel :
    Its a totally different design, but it uses the same basic Li-ion technology, which has become extremely popular despite its inherent danger.

    Boeing obviously argued that they were safe as long are they are treated correctly, which they are.

    The Li-ion battery didn’t catch fire because it was inherently designed to do so, it caught fire because of a fault with the 787.

    The issue is that somehow the electrical system on the 787 managed to mistreat its battery so badly that it caught fire; its the electrical system that is being reviewed not the Li-ion battery.

    • Problematic power sequencing as a “foundational” issue?

      If I have understood the available information there is a wide range of possible interconnections ( just plain switching and also powerconversion blocks either unidrectional or ?bidirectional? ) available for contingencies. With some of the busses not being able to accept more than one power source at the same time.

    • There might be some truth in what you say Peter. But don’t forget that Li-ion in intrinsically unstable compared to the standard Ni-Cad. And the latter is more robust when mistreated.

  21. Uwe :
    Dreamliner regular operating modus will be 2 generators for 2 independent VF AC busses.
    One for each bus.

    Uwe, what you say here is true, but don’t forget that it also applies to all aircraft models. The A380 does not use 600 KW all at once. Those numbers reflect the total aircraft capacity at any given time. It doesn’t mean that all that power is in use all the time.

    One third approximately comes from the APU, and it is there in case one engine goes out. So we must not look at this in terms of absolute numbers. But the ratio remains the same among various aircraft types. For example, we can say that the A380 is more than twice the size of the 787, but needs less than half the power of a Dreamliner.

    That’s a lot of current flowing through those wires. And you are right to compare these to firecrackers, because that’s what they actually are when something goes wrong. But they would only get wet if the fire fighters can reach the aircraft before it completely burns down.

    • I’m no specialist but I can imagine if burning batteries can’t be extinguished during flight, special requirements are there to early identify the problem, make sure the batteries are isolated from the rest of the aircraft, make sure the resulting heat is removed from the aircraft without affecting flightsafety.

  22. Uwe :Any relation/comparison to how the Koito fibbed Certs were handled in the US (versus how EASA went about it) ?

    How were they handled differently?

  23. From Ben Sandilands of Plane Talking, (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2013/01/12/boeing-faa-put-themselves-on-the-line-over-787/), “Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration had to take the uncomfortable position last night of simultaneously insisting that there was nothing wrong with the 787 Dreamliner and its certification process while fully backing a review caused by a fire the certification authority had said could never happen.” He has a couple of other crackers in the first few paragraphs.

    From Michael Huerta, “•Last month looked at pylons and fuel valves.” What does this imply? I thought it was looked at and settled. Is there more to this?

  24. This review goes much further then looking at the last incidents, like some suggest.

    RLH: “Today we are conducting a comprehensive review of the design and production of the 787, covering critical systems of the aircraft, including design, production and assembly.”
    MH: “We want to look at entire picture, and a special emphasis on electrical systems, including battery, power and interaction with other systems”

    I think we can assume the FAA knows much more then we do. Indications are Boeing used all its power to prevent it from being made public before further research is done. Now they are monitoring to see how the airlines and public opinion reacts to this FAA review. E.g. on well visited forums like this.

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