787 electrical system review to be ordered: Seattle Times

Late Thursday night, The Seattle Times reported that the FAA will on Friday order a full electrical system review of the Boeing 787. The story is here.

Jon Ostrower has this short report.

Here is a long report in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

More bad headlines

The New York Times has this story about more nettlesome problems with the 787. Although the issues related in this story–cracks in the windshield and an engine oil leak–are minor, the headlines add to the growing bad publicity surrounding the 787. These issues also cause service interruptions for the airplane, inconveniencing passengers and the operators.

8 Comments on “787 electrical system review to be ordered: Seattle Times

  1. As expected. They took a few days extra to fully document the project sofar, the certification and complete track record of the system. There was at least one unreported (publicly) incident earlier. No doubt the Boeing camp did all they can to convince the FAA everything is under control, but have to settle with this. They have to, the FAA could also have taken more drastic action. They are held accountable too.

    • Unreported.. would you like to elaborate, Keesje? Also although Boeing said it had traced 3 out of 4 of the “generator’ incidents to faulty PCB’s that still leaves 1 random to pin to another cause.

      I think that this spells trouble for B & possibly the FAA, how did they allow the 787 to be certified with an electronics bay beneath the passenger cabin without fire detection?

      • Here’s the list, Demistro;
        Problems with 787’s electrical systems

        Jan. 7: Japan Airlines 787 catches fire on the ground in Boston; NTSB says “severe fire damage” found in lithium-ion battery in electronics bay.

        Dec. 14, 2012: A United Airlines 787 is grounded; airline blames “a problem with an electrical panel.” Boeing said Tuesday that this and the three other incidents last year were traced to faulty circuit boards in the power distribution panel, and arcing was found when the panels were inspected.

        Dec. 9, 2012: On its delivery flight from Boeing, a Qatar Airways 787 reports an electrical problem.

        Dec. 4, 2012: A United 787 carrying passengers from Houston to Newark lands safely in New Orleans after pilot reported an electrical malfunction.

        Summer 2012: A Dreamliner operated by either ANA or JAL (Boeing won’t identify the customer) encounters an electrical fault; incident unreported until this week.

        Nov. 9, 2010: Fire breaks out during a 787 test flight, forcing an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas. Boeing later says foreign debris in the power distribution panel caused the fire, which grounded flight testing for more than two months while the panel was redesigned.

        Source: Seattle Times reporting

        The one “random” incident is the battery fire at Logan International Airport in Boston. We also don’t have much, if any information on the “Summer 2012” incident. So we don’t know if this event is connected to that same panel batch, another batch, or was a different problem altogether.

  2. So what is different between that one batch of 16 electrical panels, which had 3 of the incidents, and any other batch of the same panels? How much of a redisign effort will there be to replace the Li-Ion batteries with Ni-Cad batteries?
    I did not know that Cessna also had problems with Li-Ions, and had to replace them.

    • There should not be any issues that prevent a redesign to Ni-Cd or other batteries. However it means a weight gain (a double of current batteries), more frequent replacement etc. Nothing insurmountable for sure but suboptimal from Boeing perspective.

      • Well it probably also means looking at the storage space for the batteries, and the whole layout of the electronics bay?

  3. This is finally a step in the good direction. It is unfortunate that it was not done prior to certification.

  4. “Trust but verify” would be the expected relationship between the certifying body and the client. I am wondering whether the FAA no longer trusts what Boeing says. The previous fire in Laredo indicated Boeing or its subcontractors hadn’t carried out the necessary software tests for certification. In this case special conditions, imposed to prevent such a fire breaking out, may literally have been short-circuited.

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