Odds and Ends: Returning the 787 to service; Elon Musk’s Tesla challenges; Droning on

Consensus Building around 787 Fix: There seems to be a consensus building in industry around the timing of the battery fix for the Boeing 787. Customers and suppliers we talk to believe Boeing will have an interim fix developed this month and the aircraft should return to revenue service next month.

Of course, the only consensus that counts is the FAA, EASA and the other regulatory agencies. We’ll see if this develops as others hope.

And Elon Musk wants to lecture Boeing on Lithium Ion batteries: see this story; he’s got problems of his own.

Droning On: The Seattle Mayor has banned his police department from using drones. The SPD is one of the first in the US to use drones for short-term surveillance. The small UAVs have battery endurance for perhaps half an hour (queue the lithium battery jokes). These have been used to look for criminals and traffic accident investigation.

But civil libertarians and those concerned with SPD’s potential for abuse (and not without good reason, given SPD’s track record) created a stink that prompted Mayor Mike McGinn to ban the use.

McGinn is up for reelection and has proved to be a lefty-wacko who is very vulnerable. We think his decision is in character and an effort to appease his shrinking voter base.

Drones for law enforcement are a useful, an inexpensive tool. Civil libertarians are concerned that surveillance will be too wide-spread and invade privacy. We’re confused. Most big city police agencies have helicopters. Highway patrols have airplanes. Each of these can see what drones can see, and civil libertarians haven’t complained about these, at least that we have seen. We see little difference in between drones and these older technologies. See what we’re talking about?

According to news reports, a drone was used to keep an eye on the recent hostage-taking standoff in Alabama.

We have no problem with law enforcement using drones. (Nor do we have a problem with Obama using them, either, but this is a topic for another post.)