787 test flights sought: Seattle Times

The Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing is seeking FAA permission to begin test flights.

This, of course, will be good news and it reaffirms reports by others and by us that Boeing and investigations appear to be narrowing the focus of the investigation.

25 comments on “787 test flights sought: Seattle Times

    • Good news? In my opinion flight testing is required because FAA and Boeing know nothing about the cause. Boeing is therefore far away from solving the problem.

      • Boeing ask vor …
        Your assumption is that flight testing will be for restaging potential fault path? Find a way to force the issue or even just an inkling of missbehaviour in flight ?

        How would test originating from the NTSB appear in public?
        NTSB requests from FAA…
        or
        NTSB requests Boeing to request from FAA ….

  1. About the …However, the initial flights will simply gather data on how the battery is affected by changes in temperature during the flight cycle as well as the impact of vibrations during landing and take-off. ..

    You mean BA has NOT run shock and vibration tests on the battery OR electronics ??

    50 years ago – on missiles- such tests were standard, and I believe a decade ago, the 767 structure and normal aboard installed items met mil-specs – thus was developed the 6 g coffe urn or similar.

    Of course running such tests nowdays would cost a few bucks, and perhaps a few circuit boards would be destroyed. That goes against the Cheaper do it yourself rerquirements in vogue now days- and the MBA power point rangers never heard of shock mounts ( note the apparent absence of such devices on the photos so far released.

    Then there are the hard landings- with the batteries near the gear structure- wing box etc

    Perhaps the test people didn’t want to pound things too hard ?????

    • When you are not sure about the answer, don’t ask the question!

      This is where it hurts: FAA has been lenient with the test requirement and relied too much on what was guaranteed.

    • I’m guessing (hoping) that it’s really not the case that you (and some others commentators on the Aviation Week article) are putting forward: that Boeing (+suppliers) neglected to put all 787 components through rigorous environmental/electrical/load testing.

      This *has* to be comparing real-life conditions against their test conditions… right?

    • Parts probably have been specced and tested to conditions Boeing deemed expectable.
      The FAA seems to have been relegated to the outside fringe busy with signing off.

      The prismatic 3roll cell design should show the highest susceptibilty to mechanical interference ( Yuasa cells for space are prismatic/rounded single roll, Saft seems to go solely for cylindrical single roll cells.)

  2. What about the airplanes that are stranded far away from their home base? When will they be allowed to fly the expected ferry flight bak home? Boeing could use the opportunity to gather additional in-flight data over long distances. Special permits could be issued with restricted ETOP (RTOP).

    • And the instrumentation to monitor these items?
      Boeing would have to send teams to every one of these aircraft to install this equipment.

      • What I had in mind is the In Flight Data Recorder (IFDR). I know that the IFDR for the two battery incidents have been thoroughly studied, but what about the rest of the fleet?

        Maybe they can find traces of electrical fluctuations, or any other small anomalies, that could have gone unnoticed. Who knows, maybe they could see an underlying pattern developing? It’s just a thought.

  3. I repeat,”How was it possible, that while the airframe was three year behind
    schedule, those three years were NOT used by Boeing and/or the battery
    manufacturer, to test the batteries for every possible shortcoming under
    flight conditions, including vibration tests!”

    • Well IF YOU were a vendor who had the design and fab and test and quality control responsibility plus financing all that- and then had to somehow survive a ‘ slight ‘ delay in waiting for your money when the plane gets delivered- seems to me you would do as much computer simulation as possible, test setups, vibration tables, etc cost money and require you to hire a lot of specialized equipment or go to a ‘ test lab” -ALL on your own ” dime” ( millions ) – what would you do to keep a skelton crew around waiting for the $$ ?

      And of course – IF you do not have a document that says – pass vibration test of x hours at y amplitude and z displacement , etc – you would NOT do it just cuz.

      Car batteries probably have a tougher environment – can you say Tesla ???

      So much for FASTER_CHEAPER -

    • because the airframe was late and resources were needed on that. The battery passed it’s test without much comment (even after the media-investigation of late) – so why pour effort into something that is done and finished.

    • When you are that far behind schedule you don’t want to add more testing that will result in more delays (particularly if you then spot a problem)!

  4. So it sounds like Boieng twigged onto something that they appear to have overlooked, namely vibration, shock and temperature variations. I’m no systems expert myself but after reading some other quotes here and in other forums, or news sites, this seems like a basic item to have overlooked.

    I wonder if the Boeing requirements failed to mention this. I don’t imagine the system supplier would go out of their way to install shock mounts if the Boeing specs don’t ask for it. Would have thought they might have pointed it out though. Unless they felt that they were going to get tagged with installing such measures without any extra payment for it, in which case I can understand that they would ignore it. All part and parcel of this lovely new era of maximizing profits, almost at all costs.

    Begs the question if the FAA are going to revisit any or many more of the 787 systems if something like this was missed?

    So flight tests first to see if it really is vibration, shock and temperature and should that be confirmed, then installing shock mounts and insulation to dampen these effects and then the usual evaluation, design, serial installation and certification.

    Or do you need to certify the installation of shock mounts and insulation? Or has the TC been rendered in some way invalid due to the grounding? How does this actually work?

  5. “According to an industry source, one theory Boeing is investigating is that moisture getting inside the battery may have contributed to the recent incidents.”

    Interesting. Opening wet contacts under load ( and thus a bit of arcing ) will create a cloud of hot dissociated steam aka plasma. unpleasant and damaging.
    Thinking about it something like that could explain what happened on the p100 non fire event.

      • Could you point out my error?

        plasma is disassociated matter, charged atoms and electrons no longer linked to specific atoms providing a highly conductive fluid.

        Opening contacts that carry current will create varying amounts of hot plasma (“arcing”) that expands fast.

        The reason why “no fire” arcing events can produce quite a lot of damage.
        Insert water into the contact separation and you will evaporate
        and plasmaize it before it can expand. ( added effect from volume change from liquid to steam ).

        Result: you get a fast expanding bigger volume of conductive plasma that can create conductive paths between parts that would not have been reached by plasma from regular arcing events.
        Worst case this can create sustained arcing.

        Sustained arcing seems to have been central to the p100 panel non fire event.

  6. FAA/NTSB/Boeing still have not found the cause fo the battery problems. Still Boeing wants to get the 787 back in the air no matter what. Jon Ostrower, who is generally close to fire & seldom wrong, throws some cold water over this flight test news.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324761004578284392368343774.html

    Everyone wants this being solved quickly so bad any positive news is blown out of proportions.

    A few ferry flights under special condition to get the aircraft home, why not, put a man with halon next to each battery.. 2004 FAA presentation on Li-Ion batteries fires I stumbled on. It was never off the agenda it seems.
    http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/systems/lithium-ion_battery_04112006.pdf

  7. Better get ANA pilots flying them as well, just to see what they are doing in the real world, remember DC-10 pylon maintenance? Jon Ostrower seems to know Boeing’s thinking before Boeing does, so it he says they are clueless……

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