Odds and Ends: Cathay cancels 8 777Fs, takes up 3 747-8Fs; soft cargo market a concern

Cathay cancels 777F order: Cathay Pacific Airways canceled an order for eight Boeing 777Fs. CX will instead acquire three 747-8Fs, trading in four 747-400Fs to Boeing. The cargo market remains soft and Boeing is struggling to sell 747-8Fs. One person close to the program says Boeing is faced with building several white tails this year and a recent aerial photo of Paine Field at Everett did show at least two 747-8Fs with no airline markings on the flight line.

We’re concerned about the continuing soft cargo market–it’s usually a leading indicator about the direction of the passenger market. Boeing forecasts recovery in 2014 but we’re not so sure.

Speaking of 777s, Air Lease Corp picked up an order for 10 777-300ERs.

787 update: Aviation Week has an updated report on the Boeing plans to begin flight tests for the 787. There seems to be a consensus building that the earliest the aircraft might return to revenue service is late April or in May–the latter a day we forecast earlier.

55 comments on “Odds and Ends: Cathay cancels 8 777Fs, takes up 3 747-8Fs; soft cargo market a concern

  1. Still can’t believe that Boeing are pursuing a band aid solution for their new baby.

    I sure hope they are very clear to the public that this does not address any ‘root cause’ but simply attempts to control the effects of potential overheat, fire and/or explosion.

    The public need to know this so they can make an informed choice.

    For me, I personally feel the risks are too great. I would rather fly on a different aircraft – which won’t be too difficult!

    And before you start, I know there are risks on any aircraft, but other aircraft have long proven safety records that I TRUST.

      • Thanks TopBoom for your comment. This one was way easier to follow and understand compare to some others from your repertoire. matjmca, there are plenty of unknown causes that could probably go wrong while flying a airplane and still no company can account for all of them. Point in case is the explosion of TWA 800 center fuel tank . The cause was never pinpointed to exactly what caused it, yet something was done and required on future airplane to design something to avoid it. Engines can explode on any aircraft, you and I know this could happen, but a nacelle is build around it to if at all possible contain this from doing damages to the plane itself. Prevention is the ideal thing, but not everything can ever be prevented. So, if the battery catches fire on a airplane and there is a mechanism to contain that fire that only the battery would burn without causing any damage to the plane, would it not be a good thing?

      • Unknown issues I accept. I’m not unreasonable and accept there are risks to flying. There are risks in everything we do.

        However, I don’t believe what Boeing are doing is acceptable.

        Would you be totally relaxed on the 787 more than 15 minutes away from an airport knowing the root cause to its battery problems is unknown? Airbus say 15 minutes is about the maximum time an aircraft can survive if a fire gets out of control. And Li-Ion fires are out of control because they burn & burn until the fuel has gone.

        Containment is all well and good, but is that containment itself fail safe? Also, part of this solution involves venting fire, smoke and debris out of the aircraft. What happens if this occurs on the ground? What happens if the battery is only one weak link? This could be a symptom of another electrical problem in the aircraft. The 787 has had multiple electrical issues since launch. What if these are all indications of a bigger problem. A problem Boeing doesn’t yet understand because the root causes are unknown?

        I can’t even comprehend how Boeing/FAA etc can test this so called fix in flight to certify it?

    • matjamca, surely you know the most dangerous part of any flying activity has nothing to do with the type of airplane you fly in, it is the drive to and from the airport. While the cause of the B-787 battery problem is still being sought after, it will be found and corrected. I might point out that there has been no one injured (other than on the evacuation slides, which also happen on almost all airplane types) or killed, that cannot be said for other famous groundings, like the DC-10 and the Comet-I.

      No long term airplane type “proven safety record” will gaurantee a continued safety record in the future. The A-380 faced a near catistrophic crash a few years ago. If it had not been for the 5 QF pilots aboard working through several problems, that flight could have very well ended in a disaster. If that flight had the normal crew of just two pilots, those pilots could have easily been overwelmed by the engine emergency and the subsquent sytem failures. Would that make you not want to fly on any A-380 equipped with RR engines?

      My point is EVERY airplane type has had some type of incident or accident. Some types have had more than other types. Even popular types like the A-380, B-747, A-340, A-330, B-777, B-767, B-757, B-737 (all current generations), and A-320 family have had accidents. Chances are that the A-350 will also have some growing pains and maybe even a design deficency soon after it enters regular airline service.

      So, does all of this mean you will stop flying? All other forms of transportation are more dangerous than flying, including walking, driving, trains, ships, even horse riding.

      • But TopBoom – Boeing don’t know what caused these battery failures, yet they want to return the plane to the air. This is my main objection. How can they want the 787 to fly again when they do not know what caused the failure? It’s just not good enough.

      • matjamca, based on your fear of an unknown root cause of an aircraft problem, I suggest you never get on a 747 (center fuel tank explosion – unknown cause) and possibly an A330 for the crash into the South Atlantic coming out of Brazil. That one has a lot of good suspects but no sure cause.

        • For the A330 – if you’re referring to the unknown causes for the airmen’s behaviour then okay… Otherwise that was eventually a very well documented incident with no failure on the part of the aircraft.

      • Sorry Frank, but the centre wing tank explosion was an unknown cause that became known. They knew that fuel vapour in a hot tank, combined with electrical sparking from the sensors caused the explosion. They were then able to fix the problem – and to my knowledge the problem has never happened since.

        The 787 battery issue remains unknown. So no true fix can yet be implemented. The two issues are completely different.

  2. Tom :
    Thanks TopBoom for your comment. This one was way easier to follow and understand compare to some others from your repertoire. matjmca, there are plenty of unknown causes that could probably go wrong while flying a airplane and still no company can account for all of them. Point in case is the explosion of TWA 800 center fuel tank . The cause was never pinpointed to exactly what caused it, yet something was done and required on future airplane to design something to avoid it. Engines can explode on any aircraft, you and I know this could happen, but a nacelle is build around it to if at all possible contain this from doing damages to the plane itself. Prevention is the ideal thing, but not everything can ever be prevented. So, if the battery catches fire on a airplane and there is a mechanism to contain that fire that only the battery would burn without causing any damage to the plane, would it not be a good thing?

    Sorry about that, I think it posted on to the wrong comment!

    • I do not understand why you compare engines and batteries. You are right when you say that engine can explose but there is plenty of aircraft all around the world flying with batteries that do not take fire.The 787 ‘s batteries took fire twice ! Why would we leave the 787 flying with flammable batteries ? Just because it’s a « changing game » aircraft ? What a game !

      • I was not comparing engines and batteries I don’t know why you make this assumption. What I wrote was that many things (I put engines as an example) can go wrong on a commercial aircraft that the manufacturers do not have all the answer for, but they try to mitigate it as much as possible in case it happens.

  3. kc135topboom :
    I might point out that there has been no one injured (other than on the evacuation slides, which also happen on almost all airplane types) or killed, that cannot be said for other famous groundings, like the DC-10 and the Comet-I.

    Things are pretty bad for Boeing right now, but if one or two Dreamliner had crashed à la Swissair Flight 111 the situation would be a lot worst. And if we examine the two battery incidents closely, it becomes obvious that in both cases the airplane would have been lost if the thermal runaway had happened while the airplane was over the Arctic or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    No matter how bad things are at the moment, Boeing can consider itself lucky. Very lucky.

    • Despite working on the other side, I have to say I think that’s over the top.

      Clearly both incidents were serious, but there is NO evidence the aircraft would have been “lost” if over the oceans. Most likely the batteries would have burnt out and some systems may have degraded, but generators would have continued to function and basic electrical systems would have continued to operate.

      • I don’t think you understand how serious the battery fire was.

        Li-Ion battery fires are self-sustaining. They have the fuel and oxygen they need to burn all in the battery. The fire also gets incredibly hot.

        The 787 aircraft which suffered the problems – especially the JAL – could well have been list very quickly whilst in flight.

        • matjamca :
          I don’t think you understand how serious the battery fire was.
          Li-Ion battery fires are self-sustaining. They have the fuel and oxygen they need to burn all in the battery. The fire also gets incredibly hot.
          The 787 aircraft which suffered the problems – especially the JAL – could well have been list very quickly whilst in flight.

          Let’s not be melodramatic. Both batteries put themselves out in these cases. They were not “saved” because of where the aircraft were – nor due to intervention… the fire crew in Boston *may* have shortened the exposure slightly, but they may also have aggravated the situation trying to get the battery out… doesn’t seem like the fires/meltdowns would have concluded very differently if the aircraft were in flight the whole time.

          Please note, I am not at all understating the seriousness of these incidents! They were very serious indeed. But you can’t state with any certainty at all that there would have been hull loss or injury had this played out in the air.

      • While I agree that claiming the aircraft would have been lost is over the top, having a battery on fire and spewing flammable material amidst other electronic equipment icluding back-up batteries for critical systems poses a significant risk.

  4. Seems that a few (around 5) 747-8s are already being parked up in Arizona, Lufthansa also cancelled one (a test aircraft, but have not ordered a replacement). The Cathy news is at least some good news for that program, but the 787 saga may have annoyed a few possible candidate airlines.

    • matjamca :
      I don’t think you understand how serious the battery fire was.
      Li-Ion battery fires are self-sustaining. They have the fuel and oxygen they need to burn all in the battery. The fire also gets incredibly hot.
      The 787 aircraft which suffered the problems – especially the JAL – could well have been list very quickly whilst in flight.

      You do understand the JAL B-787 that had the battery fire in Boston had flown over land for the last 6 hours of its flight, don’t you? Had the APU battery fire occured anytime in the 7 hour period prior to it actually starting, there would have been divert airports within about 30 minutes flying time.

      But the APU battery was not being used at any time during the flight between NRT and BOS. So that battery fire could only have something to do with the using of it to start the APU that day, or the recharge cycle after its use.

      • I think 30 minutes would have been too long to wait. In 30 minutes a hell of a lot of damage could have been caused.

        Yes in this case the JAL was over land and yes it was on the ground.

        But if the JAL was over the ocean and it happened it would have stood no chance.

        Yes in the case of the JAL it was the APU battery, but with the ANA it wasn’t.

        Are these two events linked?

        WE DON’T KNOW – THE REASON IS UNKNOWN, YET BOEING ARE HAPPY AND EAGER TO RETURN THE 787 TO FLIGHT.

        I don’t understand why people aren’t understanding this.

        Should happen….
        Problem happens > Understand Problem > Fix Problem > Problem Never happens again.

        Shouldn’t happen….
        Problem happens > Can’t figure problem out > Accept problem could happen again and again > Develop a band aid solution > Return aircraft to flight > Cross fingers and toes that no one dies!!!

        Tell me Top Boom. How can Boeing even know if their band aid solution will work? They don’t know what caused the battery issues in the first place?

        It’s like me knowing my car has broken down, yet not knowing what’s wrong but still attempting to fix it anyway.

        You’ve heard that expression – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Well Boeing’s solution seems to be fix it anyway – somehow!

  5. SomeoneInToulouse :

    matjamca :
    I don’t think you understand how serious the battery fire was.
    Li-Ion battery fires are self-sustaining. They have the fuel and oxygen they need to burn all in the battery. The fire also gets incredibly hot.
    The 787 aircraft which suffered the problems – especially the JAL – could well have been list very quickly whilst in flight.

    Let’s not be melodramatic. Both batteries put themselves out in these cases. They were not “saved” because of where the aircraft were – nor due to intervention… the fire crew in Boston *may* have shortened the exposure slightly, but they may also have aggravated the situation trying to get the battery out… doesn’t seem like the fires/meltdowns would have concluded very differently if the aircraft were in flight the whole time.
    Please note, I am not at all understating the seriousness of these incidents! They were very serious indeed. But you can’t state with any certainty at all that there would have been hull loss or injury had this played out in the air.

    Thanks “someone in T” somehow I think that we are just thinking of the worst that was going to happen when in fact the worst did not happen and it was not guaranteed that
    it was going to happen even if the batteries were to burn themselves completely. I hear a lot about these batteries as being “self fire sustaining” devices. But how long will they be able to sustain this fire? Don’t they ever consume themselves out. Other talk about the batteries melting the casing they are enclosed in, but can a better casing be built so as not to melt even under these intense fire?

    • Are you for real Tom?

      You have to anticipate the worst that could happen. You have to be safe and secure against worse case scenario.

      You’re basically saying, “Phew, we dodged a bullet there. Lucky it wasn’t worse case scenario. Lets get back to work!”

      • leehamnet :
        An Airbus study which we linked said a fire can go out of control in 8 minutes and you need to land within 15.

        Correct, but I don’t remember anything in that study that said anything about what was on fire, nor where it starts. In some cases, yes, you have no choice but to land ASAP, in other cases you will have more time.

        Don’t forget the B-787 battery system, as designed was suppose to contain a battery fire. That design failed in some of its entended protection of the airplane and surrounding systems. But it still did contain most of the fire, if not all of it.

        I am not being critical of the BFD, but their actions may have initially made the situation worse before they gained full control of the fire. I commend them for their action, as they placed fire departments at International Airports around the world on a steep learning curve about how to fight a Li-Ion battery fire. Fire Departments are just as professional as we in the aviation business. They share experiences, what they did right and more important what they did wrong, when confronted with a unique fire like the Boston Fire Department was.

      • You’re not actually reading what I’m writing! For one thing, I’m not Tom. For another – yes I am literally saying they dodged a bullet. I’m saying they would also have dodged the same bullet in the air IN THESE TWO CASES.

        You stated that in the air these WOULD have crashed. That is simply NOT TRUE. There’s a small chance they could, yes. There’s also a chance that OTHER battery fires would have led to hull loss. But no evidence that these ones would have.

      • The “certified as existing” design elements supposed to fullfill the prerequisites simply do not exist.

        The battery design is obviously unfit for the task set.
        ( and imho any adequately educated FAA representative should have noticed that on an initial presentation.before even beginning to certify this piece.)
        This then was a path taken with premeditation. Not looking with utmost care. Just like Boeing management never knew anything was amiss from very carefully not looking.

        A potential commonality in both cases for the batteries going is a delay of 30…40 minutes after APU use. ( one charge cycle ? triggering preexisting damage to the cells )
        In the japanese incident the second battery was also damaged. This would indicate that a potential and simultanous loss of both batteries has high probability.

        “No problem as nothing dangerous happened” is not how savety works.

        Where else in the Dreamliner was the certification process subverted in a similar way?

  6. Well I guess so much for ‘Boeing doesn’t build white tails’, which is a claim one keeps hearing. While it’s good to see more 748s finding a home (I very much enjoyed the then brand-new BA Cargo birds doing circuits and bumps at Stansted), a deal which is a cancellation of 8 frames, and trading in 4 sub-par performers for 3 new ones, doesn’t strike me as great for the seller, even though the 8 cancelled frames did find a good new home.

  7. matjamca :
    Are you for real Tom?
    You have to anticipate the worst that could happen. You have to be safe and secure against worse case scenario.
    You’re basically saying, “Phew, we dodged a bullet there. Lucky it wasn’t worse case scenario. Lets get back to work!”

    Sorry matjamca, but are you for real?

    Do you know how many LiOn batteries you fly with EVERY on day on EVERY flight on EVERY plane in the world? Probably north of 150, not a small number of them stored in a place (luggage) where you have no control of what is next to them and that materials flammability, then what is next to that (flammable plastic shell) luggage and so on. All these batteries are produced to lower standards then the 787 one, their containment boxes are non existent (not designed and certified for a planned thermal runaway like the 787 one), their surrounding is not planned and certified non flammable like the 787 one, their ventilation is not switched to overboard as the 787 EE bay ones if they have their runaway in the cabin lockers….. and so on. These batteries have probabilities of thermal runaway which is not negligible, I happen to have shipped about 100.000 of them on planes in a previous job and that was a concern. This seeking of absolute safety and a 100% root cause elimination is non real, ALL systems on an airplane have probabilities of failure and the way around it is lines of defense, not 100% understanding and elimination of root causes. A non existent root cause brought the AF447 down (not the pilots, their line of defense against this non existent root cause did not work but the cause was a pitot system that should not have frozen because their is not free water at 12km altitude (there was) )…..

    With this attitude you can’t fly, go by train, buss, drive or get out of bed. We accept all these risks which brings probabilities of disaster which are magnitudes higher then the certified airplane yet Boeing should not get an acceptance for an improved triple line of defense designed by about 100 of the worlds best experts on the problLet me tell you not even 10 of the worlds best experts ahve worked on this 100* dangers we fly with every day. Get real and face a real world as it is, you can get in trouble any moment…with no designed lines of defense and non understood root causes

    (Not affiliated with Boeing in any way)

    • The comparison between a 63 lbs aircraft battery (X2) and the ones we have in our laptops is not a fair one.

      • A crude test to be sure however — how does this make you feel –
        http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355739&highlight=test+ammunit+box
        Experimental Ignition of a Large LiPo Pack in a Vented Ammo Box
        A 4S3P 6000 mah LiPo pack was placed in a .50 cal. ammo box vented with a 3” steel flex pipe, and charged @ 15amps, with a 29-volt limit. The pack was triple-wrapped in fibreglass cloth, about 12 layers, altogether.
        The purpose was to test whether the apparatus would contain a large LiPo pack ignition and direct the effluent outside through the pipe.
        Details of the apparatus (window closure, pipe installation, etc.) are moot. The ignition blew the ammo box lid open and a three-foot diameter fireball erupted.
        The “last gasp” of the fireball was captured in the first picture. The remains of the pack can be seen continuing to burn in the second, looking down into the open box.
        It was intended that a progression of tests would ensue, working up to a 5S4P 8000 mah pack. Those tests will be abandoned.
        I am now personally convinced there is no safe way to “contain” a large LiPo pack ignition with apparatus widely available at a reasonable price. If I were to fly such packs, I would charge them in an open area where they could simply burn without undue risk of collateral damage.
        Tj cooper has done considerable LiPo ignition testing and has expressed an interest in testing large packs in a sealed ammo can. I would advise against it, since even a generously vented can will not withstand the initial pressure buildup. In my test, that buildup occurred over a timespan I would estimate at about a half-second. There was no supplementary air introduced into the box during the pressure buildup.
        This test was possible due to the generosity of Charlie Wang, who donated the four packs. The remaining three are at his disposal.

  8. Tom :
    Prevention is the ideal thing, but not everything can ever be prevented.

    Indeed not everything can be prevented. But the risks can be mitigated, especially when an alternative exists, like in this case for example.

    Tom :
    So, if the battery catches fire on a airplane and there is a mechanism to contain that fire that only the battery would burn without causing any damage to the plane, would it not be a good thing?

    Fire is the last thing you want on board an aircraft, contained or not. Especially a lithium battery fire, which is extremely energetic. Efforts should be directed towards preventing fires, not containing them. Again, especially when suitable alternative technologies exist.

  9. The non availability of post editing of posts garbeled by the system is disturbing, here the last part as it was originally posted:

    ” about 100 of the worlds best experts on the problem have designed this solution. Let me tell you not even 10 of the worlds best experts have worked on this 100 times more problematic danger we fly with every day. Get real and face a real world as it is, you can get in trouble any moment…with non designed lines of defense and non understood root causes. “

  10. SomeoneInToulouse :
    Clearly both incidents were serious, but there is NO evidence the aircraft would have been “lost” if over the oceans.

    It took almost one hour for well equipped and well trained firefighters to put one battery fire out. If the Boston incident had occurred in the middle of the night, with no one on board, the aircraft would probably have been destroyed.

  11. Normand Hamel :
    The comparison between a 63 lbs aircraft battery (X2) and the ones we have in our laptops is not a fair one.

    Why is it not a fair one? The reasoning is around what can that thermal runaway source ignite which causes non containable fire or toxic smoke, not the thermal runaway of the battery in it-selves. It will self extinguish once the chemical reaction has run to completion. The energy released from a laptop battery can certainly ignite the other 3-5 batteries in the battery pack and then they can ignite the contains of the bags etc. The key difference is the one case has a designed and certified strategy around this runaway with the involvement of the battery manufacturer, the other not (in fact it is uncontrollable as you can’t regulate and then control how persons pack their bags). The size of the battery chemistry is less important then the probability of that size chemistry runaway causing an out of control reaction of adjacent materials.

  12. kc135topboom :
    But the APU battery was not being used at any time during the flight between NRT and BOS. So that battery fire could only have something to do with the using of it to start the APU that day, or the recharge cycle after its use.

    We don’t know the root cause of the two battery incidents and there is no way for us to say when a battery would go postal. How long does it take to initiate a thermal runaway on a 787 battery? Even the NTSB cannot answer that question.

    Is it related to the aircraft electrical system? If so, what is the effect on the battery? And what is the triggering mechanism for the thermal runaway? How does it unfold in time? It is not possible at the moment to answer those questions.

    But Boeing seems to think that we don’t need to know what is causing the fire as long as the fire is contained. That’s a strange view of safety. Coming from Boeing, no less.

  13. Normand Hamel :

    SomeoneInToulouse :
    Clearly both incidents were serious, but there is NO evidence the aircraft would have been “lost” if over the oceans.

    It took almost one hour for well equipped and well trained firefighters to put one battery fire out. If the Boston incident had occurred in the middle of the night, with no one on board, the aircraft would probably have been destroyed.

    Sorry Normand, this is another sweeping non informed statement and has to be commented. If the Boston thermal runaway would have happened on an airliner designed to the Swissair DC10 standard that went down in Maine yes, at that time there were no requirements for non flammable materials in the aircraft’s interiors, since then there is. The Boston battery burned as long as it did because that is what they do, you can only put them out by chilling them to the point where the runaway stops, not extinguish them (this is known by the firefighters, that is why they focused on containing the flames so they could get to the box and get it out to let it finish it’s runaway outside). This the time they spent working on the battery is not a relevant parameter, others are. This runaway process is known and designed for, that is why the box is theres, the EE bays contain no flammable material, not on a 787, not on an A380, not on any modern airliner and the ventilation system has a smoke detector which triggers an overboard switched path. So once the battery has run it’s runaway things go quiet. Now the question is what has been damaged during this process? This has also been evaluated in the certification process and judged still safe to fly. The Boston battery spent about 50% of it’s active time in place, I have seen the pictures of the damage. Unfortunately we have no information if any aircraft system was impaired by the modest scalding of the surrounding caused by that 50% action time. It would have been interesting to have this information to get the discussion a little more informed and level.

    This describes a reality far from your statement the aircraft would have been destroyed, but then one new type having a problem is soo much more interesting then the 100 old ones having serious problems every day in the world, save for the ones crashing and killing people without causing headlines outside the local papers

    • With 100 planes in service and early A380 like utilisation a 2/45,000h battery death will happen every 18..20 days. ( current fleet would be every 40+ days , with the low utilisation we see on the Dreamliner 3++ month.)
      Do you think this presents acceptable use condition for airlines? My guess is airlines won’t touch it.

  14. No wonder Boeing feels it can get away with a containment system on the 787 when people don’t fully appreciate the risks involved. The comments on here prove it.

    Listen people.

    I accept risk. You cannot live without it. If the plane I was on blew up because the engineers made an oversight I’d accept it, I’d be dead (probably) but I’d accept it.

    However, to KNOW there is a problem and NOT know what is causing it, but wanting to fly the plane anyway – albeit with a big metal box as a so called solution – is just WRONG. It’s like playing a game of Russian Roulette.

    The 787 should not be allowed to fly again until they know what is causing the problem. There may be an even more serious, underlying problem yet to be discovered. There may not be. The 787 may never have another problem ever again.

    But two very serious battery incidents tell me that there is a serious problem somewhere. A problem that needs to be addressed.

    And my question still remains unanswered.

    How can Boeing even test this so called fix when they do not know what triggered the issues in the first place?

    Either they do know – and are not being honest – or they are just hoping it will save the plane.

    Plus, the extra weight of these containment boxes – thick steel – must negate any benefit of the lighter Li-Ion batteries anyway. Their insistence on sticking with them now is surely just a face saving measure. “We were right to use them, we’re the best, we get NOTHING wrong”. Boeing hasn’t once accepted there is an issue here. They haven’t held theirs hands up and said we have a problem.

    Boeing management are useless.

  15. SomeoneInToulouse : For one thing, I’m not Tom.

    Okay, clearly there’s something wrong with WordPress – I’ll have to stop replying from the mail notification since that stated you were replying to me and not Tom…

  16. ferpe :
    ” about 100 of the worlds best experts on the problem have designed this solution. Let me tell you not even 10 of the worlds best experts have worked on this 100 times more problematic danger we fly with every day. “

    No offence, but that is a joke, That is 100 experts who don’t actually manufacture the battery! Yuasa, battery experts by right, and manufacturers, say this is NOT the solution.

  17. I keep reading lines like “Hey, driving to and from the airport is much more dangerous than flying on a 787 with Li-Ion batteries”
    True, but that shouldn’t be an argument for relaxing aircraft certification standards, it should rather be an argument for making car travel more safe, shouldn’t it?

    • hur! ( Just like sending soldiers recruited from certain US urban areas to Iraq significantly decreased their mortality rate and mode : from stabbing/gunshot to suicide )

      Comparing to airtravel industry standards actually would make the most sense.
      Simplest probably would be to ask the relevant insurance company: do you cover 787 pax transport and at what (relative) rate ?

    • Interesting point. I hadn’t thought about that kind of differentiation.
      Thoug i _was_ surprised that an AD had been handed out that contained
      completely unspecific requirements. A protective gesture towards Boeing.

      After reading I stumbled over this article :
      http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/blogs/ain-blog-bias-taints-even-informed-debate-about-aircraft-markets
      Injection of largely anecdotal and in many cases unattributed information snippets that nevertheless gain quite significant traction to the advantage of select market participants.

      Clandestine campaigning like Astroturfing and other tools are heavily used to level the playingfield to Boeings advantage.
      Looks like other observers start to see that too now.

  18. pdxlight :
    Interesting blog post from John Goglia on the FAA and their use of the AD:

    – “So often it’s only under the intense media pressure of a disaster, and the unrelenting lobbying of family members of the deceased, that the FAA is finally forced – usually by Congressional direction – to make safety improvements.”

    – “The FAA issued the emergency AD only after both Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced that they would ground their fleets, following the emergency landing of the ANA 787.”

    – “And, of course, the problems with the lithium-ion batteries (it’s not exactly a surprise that they have problems with overheating and catching fire) may lead back to the way the FAA certifies new aircraft types.”

    – Too much work is delegated to designees and the agency provides so much less oversight than it did in the past.”

    – “I question the use of an Emergency Airworthiness Directive to accomplish that grounding, when no fix is provided.”

    – What I deduce from this extreme stretching of the AD process is that the FAA was trying to ground the fleet without pulling the 787’s type certificate.”

    – “It’s pretty clear that United – currently the only U.S. operator of the type – can’t fix a design or manufacturing problem with the aircraft, its electrical system or its batteries and that any FAA order should have been directed at the manufacturer, Boeing.”

    – “So what difference does it make? The aircraft is grounded, right? Well, it may end up making a difference when a supposed fix is found for the problem. It’s a lot easier to say that an AD has been complied with than to ensure that the requirements of a type certificate have been met.”

    The significance of the above statements would be easier to grasp if placed within their original context. Please check the following link to access the full content of the blog post from which the above excerpts come from:

    http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/blogs/ain-blog-torqued-emergency-ad-inappropriate-case-boeing-787

    Note: The author of the article, John Goglia, served on the board of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from August 1995 to June 2004.

    • found on a.net:
      http://blog.seattlepi.com/flyinglessons/2013/02/27/does-boeings-fire-containing-box-meet-the-feds-mandate/

      Year 2007, ALPA intervenes against Li-Ion in an FAA RFC. no other commentaries at the time.

      FAA dismissed ALPA intervention with the follwing quip:
      “The FAA opts not to accept the ALPA suggestion for fire fighting, because as it explains to ALPA, a fire in any situation is unacceptable. ” ( Was this the FAA answering or Boeing answering for the FAA?)

      i.e. Boeing/FAA assumed the basic battery/cells to be fully save. Omitting to implement any further chained safeguards as completely unnecessary. The cells thus were ” save” by dogma.

  19. Uwe :
    found on a.net:“The FAA opts not to accept the ALPA suggestion for fire fighting, because as it explains to ALPA, a fire in any situation is unacceptable.”

    That’s what the NTSB was saying the first time it reported on the battery fire investigation. Therefore one could say that the NTSB and FAA both agree that there is no need to take measures to fight a fire since a fire is not expected in the first place.

    So Boeing is doing the exact opposite of what the NTSB and FAA are saying by building a box in order to contain a fire. Talk about a major contradiction!

    If fires are not expected (read not accepted) there is no need to fight them (ALPA) or to contain them (Boeing).

    • FWIW and IMHO. At this point- even IF BA were to switch to NON LI-xxx batteries, they would still have to build- install a ” cooled-vented- firebox ” and appropriate shields -isolation of surrounding components from possible damage. And a cell by cell check and pre takeoff checklist for ” battery status foreward and battery status aft ” . So a lot of what they seem to be proposing will still be needed if no more than belt and suspenders and velco PR.

      Especially in light of a major loss in credibility and power point solutions
      And EVEN if ( doubtful ) they can show that the problem was due to either battery or system or unplanned usage or maintenace issues.

      Trust is hard won- but easily lost. Thus BA will have to go more than overboard on the ” fix- solution” with accompnying PR, lots of video ” tests” and ” demonstrations” etc.

      Soothing words from BA PR and/or Chief engineer and CEO and the ” i would fly my family on one” just isn’t going to hack it !!

      expensive to do ALL of the above – YES
      choice to do ALL of the above – NO

    • The set of “special conditions” the FAA wrote don’t preclude a fire.
      They mandate that whatever happens no significant damage may occur.
      and that such events may not occur more often than once every 10e6 hours.

      The lack of mitigating design elements would indicate that Boeing defined
      a battery event as improbable during projected servicelife ( i.e. <1/1e9h).

      ex cathedra a dogma pronounced. "SAVE!" .. Looks like godlike capabilities ;-)

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