Unsurprisingly: More on the 787
We’re at the Airline Economics conference in Dublin and not surprisingly the Boeing 787 was part of the cocktail party talk Sunday night.
There is a certain level of bewilderment: Why didn’t t fail safe systems prevent overheating and fire of the batteries? The ANA battery apparently was subject to an over-charge while the JAL battery, according to the NTSB, was not. This adds to the mystery and leads to the Big Question, how long will the 787 be grounded?
The answer, of course, is not known because the cause of the two incidents is not know and therefore neither is the fix. But the general feeling is the 787 will be grounded between two and six weeks.
We shall see.
The Seattle Times has this story in which some top industry people suggest Boeing execs are in denial over the 787. These people are unidentified, while another–Gordon Bethune–thinks the FAA overreacted by grounding the airplane.
Aviation Week has this story discussing the nuances of the FAA review of the 787 design, production and certification process.
Aviation Week also has this story about the focus of the investigation on the lithium ion battery.
The Wall Street Journal has this story reporting that the JAL 787 battery did not exceed its design capacity. Subscription required.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Congress apparently is ready to have hearings on the Boeing 787. This is premature, and really not necessary in any case.
The forum PPrune, which is pretty well regarded for its high-brow, technical discussions, has a whole host of commentary on the 787 issues. Particularly useful are illustrations and discussion of the battery charging system. The link is here.
Congress ready to hear on the 787?
Don’t they have more relevant (and urgent) matters to deal with first? Fascinating!
Congress? Well the state invested billions into this technology/project, gave them enormous tax cuts and the tanker contract, are its biggest customer (DoD), has its FAA in over its neck and public safety is at the line. That qualifies them as a major Boeing stakeholder in my book. Maybe they feel they haven’t paid enough attention to Boeing lately.
Well, congress funds the FAA. If they feel FAA did lousy job on 787 like they did on Eclipse they should investigate.
Yeah, they do, they can go back to naming all those new post offices.
I do NOT understand, why Boeing AND the battery manufacturer did NOT make
sure that the Lithium Ion batteries were going to function properly under all pos-
sibly flight conditions on the 787, BEFORE the airplane went into service, because
they had three extra years to make sure that they would, while certification of the
airplane itself was delayed for that same number of years!
(Psst. Rudy… you probably have cookies off – I always get those two lines filled in when I reply.)
On the topic – I too notice a lot of media focus on the batteries rather than
a) if the batteries were subjected to something (electrical, environmental, mechanical) which is the true problem
b) why the fail-safes failed to save much (even faulty batteries should not have failed so spectacularly if the safety systems worked well)
Scott, Airline Economics looks like a very nice magazine. I had a blast going through it on my computer screen.
Securaplane’s self acclaim is rather amusing ( or more like “good for some judicious amount of angst” ):
Securaplane has developed a method for accurately detecting the inflection point which has eluded battery experts for years and is critical in reducing an overcharge condition. This patented method of charging ensures that the battery receives the optimum amount of charge for all temperature conditions combined with various battery states of charge. ”
This is so 787/Boeing : “Everybody else just can’t touch our superiority”. Astonishing that the FAA accepted a charging technique that has no backing in the wider battery industry in view of the less then benign failure modes of the technology.
Securaplane battery chargers store every fault including battery over-temperature, cell unbalance, defective temperature sensors, defective charger/battery connection and GMT time/date of fault period. Our chargers possess extensive diagnostics such as charger microprocessor status and permanent memory of faults…”
And this trail of evidence is now … gone up in smoke or smothered in caustic goo ?
How did they ever qualify the software for a charger that is complex enough to do all that
it is advertised to do.
These electrical problems which never seem to have the same cause sound very like some kind of spiking in the voltage. This is a common problem in small enclosed power systems like ships. It is also a hell of a problem to solve.
Yes, thats what i think it is. The 787 has a very complicated electrical system and something is occasionally screwing up. The symptom is the exploding batteries, not the cause.
Food for thought.
This is what I’ve been saying for weeks now…
I am pretty shocked by Bethune’s comments, especially if you juxtapose them with those of the unnamed fleet planner (BA?).
I just took United on LHR/IAD, and while I was okay with the product in J, if that is the corporate attitude to safety issues, they won’t see me again anytime soon.
I like my airlines to be overly cautious and less dismissive of their safety regulator.
It should be noted that Bethune is no longer the CEO of United/Continental, but I *am* shocked at how he (who was first involved in the development and then the purchase of the 787) tries to play this down.
Thanks, I missed he’s no longer CEO. Still…
I was also surprised that the “Wall Street analyst”, Harned, seems to think that this is an easy, cheap, quick-fix problem for Boeing and nowhere near as serious as the cracked rib-feet on the A380.
I would argue the opposite (at the moment) – the A380 wings are a known long-term issue which can be resolved in a planned long-term manner. The electrical issues on the 787 have so far caused immediate threat to at least two aircraft and, crucially, are currently an unknown quantity! *Unless* they find a simple cause and can quickly fix it, this has the potential to keep the whole 787 fleet grounded for a long time – possibly requiring considerable systems re-design and re-fit – and that would make it far more serious that the A380 wings.
Yeah, I was astounded at that as well. Particularly given that it now looks like it’s not going to be “just” a battery replacement. Never mind that even a battery replacement would be a lot more complex than it sounds, as you’d need to get a battery with the same technical specs but without the same problems if you don’t want to redesign large parts of your electric system.
Good point – in that sense I think the A380 RR engine issue is probably more comparable to the current issues on the 787: It posed an immediate hazard and had to be addressed quickly, which in itself certainly added to the bill RR had to foot. Also, depending on the outcome of the investigations I – contrary to some voices in the article – wouldn’t be at all sure that the airlines have no way of getting compensation for lost revenue, irrespective if Boeing’s tough stance on post-delivery compensation. I’m sure Rolls-Royce have a similar approach to Boeing in that sense, but they were still obliged to pay $US 100m to Qantas.
Principally one could bring Dunning-Kruger into this.
But that imho is only a small part of the story.
What we see is a concerted effort to keep the spill under the rug. Not for ever but long enough to gain time for contingency activity.
We saw the same press deliberations in the runup to the 2008 financial meltdown which also grew out of “autocertification” a pronounced lack of oversight and proper risk assessment.
Wish being father of the thought. Anyone taking bets on when the 787 will fly fare-paying passengers again?
– Excessive electricity may have overheated the battery in the ANA-owned Dreamliner
– NTSB ruled out excess voltage as the cause of a battery fire at the JAL battery fire
It seems we are looking at 2 failure modes (battery & charging), 2 investigations, solutions, modifications, certification processes and fleet modifications.
That might bring the root cause investigation on a higher level in the design process.
My feeling is that those that are talking about days to return the fleet into operation are inspired by hope rather then a review of past aerospace certification processes.
Early 787 operators and Boeing had to pull all the stops to keep up the dispatch reliability, which Boeing executives now use to claim the 787s reliability. I won’t say deception but another half-truth is around the corner IMO. Dispatch reliability is not aircraft reliability.
McNerney added that “[W]hile the 787’s dispatch reliability rate is on par with the best-in-class introduction of the 777, we will not be satisfied until the 787 meets the even higher standard of performance we set for it and promised to our customers.”
Article on how Boeing and airlines kept up 787 dispatch reliability.
I came to Leeham today having read a very confused article on the BBC yesterday. They mixed up the two cases and more or less stated the battery was not overcharged, therefore the charger is under investigation…?!? I guessed it must be different causes for JAL and ANA, like you state, but anyone reading that article would be puzzled.
So if there are problems both with the battery and with the charger, things are going to take a while to sort out. 🙁
One explanation might be that charge and voltage are different things (from my school science). It is possible to overcharge the battery while still staying within voltage limits. It seems the Li Ion chemistry is particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in charge.
As, I guess, the plane needs the charge it extracts from the battery, simply putting a limiter on the charger and output would not work. Installing a second active battery with a load balancer might be a solution, however.
Airbus hinted at this, I think, when they told Leeham that their batteries are less loaded than the 787.
Deception would be more like rolling out a airplane with temporary fastners, without completed cockpit as if it were almost finished. Assuring everybody that everything is still on schedule and no indications are present of any signs saying otherwise. Such a hypothetical event would most probably reduce trust by regulators, costumers and stockholders in managements abilty to run complex projects in a controlled and trustworthy manner. Imagine what a pr distaster such an event would be…. [I’m baffled that this in reality was so quickly forgotten by the public. It is such a big sign on the wall about the way management wants to run the project, and about what it is willing to do to paint a rosy picture]
They lost a huge amount of credibility with me for that.
They should have admitted things were behind schedule a few months before, then rolled out the shell without all the sticking-plaster fixes on 8/7/2007… er sorry 7/8/7… No shame in that – can still say “look at what we’re making, it’s gonna be good!” without trying to fool the public and screw yourselves at the same time!
Nobody would ever do this 😉
After reading the WSJ article I am confused by their saying that extraordinary steps were taken for dispatch reliability. Calling on the OEM for spares is S.O.P. I was on a MD80 at Long Beach that had a system fail and saw a mechanic drive across the runway to McDonnell-Douglas and come back with a replacement. Boeing even has an AOG dept. For fast turnaround of spare parts. As for a backup aircraft on an inaugrial flight with a new aircraft, I would think that to be good business practice for a first time.
If NTSB are ruling out over-charging, perhaps a situation could arise involving reverse polarity.
That would definitely distress something.
Ever accidentally mixed up positive and negative on your auto lead acid battery?
You only ever do it once!
And it has instant failure disclosure 😉
But I can think of significantly more insidious errors. Have sensors swapped, have some actor and the assigned sensor for checking on different items, report values from one sensor for two different positions ( and loose the other value) …
Should emphasize I am suggesting aa feed-back to the battery NOT an incorrect connection. Sorry for any confusion.
Meanwhile in Toulouse; http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airasias-fernandes-continues-call-for-a330neo-381272/
“If you say ‘re-engined’, then I’d say ‘no’,” he says. If the aircraft is already optimised, he says, “you don’t put one of these heavy engines on it”.
Ceterum censeo A330 NEO …. 😉
I am sure the Leeham blog will reference it, but Air Insight has in my view the clearest overview so far of the 787 grounding. Recommended reading.
Sorry, this is the link: http://airinsight.com/2013/01/21/787-grounding-airinsight-perspectives/
It is hard to put any confidence in an article which states…
“Prior to the 787, aircraft typically utilized both hydraulic and pneumatic systems to manage flight controls. On the 787, controls are provided by a “fly by wire” system in which they are electronically controlled. This innovative technology saves considerable weight, as heavy hydraulic and pneumatic controls are replaced with lightweight electronics, and wiring rather than piping fluid or air throughout the airplane.”
The bottom line is there are very few people in the aviation press who have even a rudimentary understanding of airplanes. As a result, it is nearly impossible to get a clear picture of what is going on from anything you can read in the media. Wait for the NTSB or the FAA to make a statement. Until then, draw conclusions with a great deal of caution.
Of course, discrediting an author on grounds of discovering inaccuracies, is an age old trick.
I’m quite sure Mr. Arvai knows that the removal of bleed-air has got nothing to with whether or not an aircraft is using a FBW flight control system.
Far more interesting than pedantic nit bits is IMO his analysis that the grounding of the 787 could turn out to be a relatively long term affair.
Agree, Mr Arvai’s piece is the most levelheaded and down to earth write-up of the issue(s) I have seen so far. I also think that he ponders on various scenarios which are realistic, which is more than I can say of some other articles I have read.
His _short_ effort of trying to quickly explain why the 787 has a bigger hunger for electricity than most other a/c I think not should be used to dismiss the whole text.
It is a well known tactic in court rooms: get the witness to admit a small (irrelevant) error in a previous statement to discredit the whole statement. I think we here should not lower ourselves to that (low) standard.
Believing someone just because we like their conclusion and despite glaring evidence they may not know what they are talking about is at least as troubing. No?
I guess we can re-visit this topic about how prescient Mr Arvai’s analysis is if the 787 is still on the ground 6 months from now. From where I’m sitting, I don’t see any paths which take us to that place.
“Believing someone just because we like their conclusion and despite glaring evidence they may not know what they are talking about is at least as troubing. No?”
Sorry, your insinuation do not wash.
“From where I’m sitting, I don’t see any paths which take us to that place.”
Well then, let’s hope that turns out to be the case.
I guess we can re-visit this topic about how prescient Mr Arvai’s analysis is if the 787 is still on the ground 6 months from now. From where I’m sitting, I don’t see any paths which take us to that place.
You suggest Arvai concludes the Dreamliner will be grounded for 6 months.
What do you mean, “like their conclusion”? You have no idea what I like, so please do not put words in my mouth.
I still maintain that the AirInsight write-up as the most levelheaded discussion I have seen (but I do not spend all my days and nights browsning so I have not read all there is). Your perceived conclusion of his conclusion of 6 months grounding, or the like, might be so or it might not. I do not read it like that, you seem to.
But I think he discusses the possibilities of a lengthy ordeal in quite a good manner, pointing out what happens until the root cause is found. And cautions that it may take time to do so, which I think is prudent. Compared to many aviation journalists, Mr Arvai seems to have more in-depth understanding, however shallow it might be to your deep knowledge of the 787 systems (or else I truly be worried).
“What Went Wrong At Boeing?”
Just to stimulate discussion and revive the debate, an article from “Forbes” more focused on the effective management of the Boeing company than on the technical solutions chosen for the 787.
The answer is : mismanagement of outsourcing and offshoring
I witnessed a slight tendency during the last 5 years in outsourcing responsibility for the many hick- ups in the 787 program. Mostly not directly but indirectly, via paid consultants, former excutives, etc. but always welcome. No doubt there are subcontractors underperforming, but I’ve too heard risk sharing, investing subcontractors complaining because of a never ending stream of specification changes very late in the process. Because of the totally unrealistic, unprecendented development time of 4 yrs, that Boeing sold to the market.
I liked this bit:
“So while Boeing’s CEO was in Chicago, strategizing about the future of Boeing and discussing civic goals with CEOs from other companies, the managers back in Seattle were making business decisions about tiresome “how-do-you-design-an-airplane stuff” that would determine whether there would be a firm to strategize about.”
Regarding a “best case” (near-term) solution in which “the plane could be granted authority to resume service with frequent inspections and perhaps limitations”. Mr Arvai concludes “we do not believe it will be accepted given the severity of the situation.”
Instead, he puts this forward as a most likely scenario:
So yes, I believe Mr Arvai has concluded the 787 will be on the ground for 6-9 months.
The problem with this “analysis” is it is based on how long it took to revise the power panels after the ZA002 fire. This is not analysis. This is the logic-defying conclusion that because it took Boeing 6 months to fix another problem, it will take 6 to 9 months to fix this problem.
Mr Arvai goes on to recite the known facts about the incidents, as well as some industry rumors, which permitted him to deliver a lengthy article, but it still comes nowhere close to being something we could call an analysis.
There are numerous logical problems in Mr. Arvai’s piece, which are convenient to overlook, if you like his conclusions. But the problems are there. For example, Mr. Arvai writes:
Somehow in his analysis, Mr. Arvai completely overlooks the words “or other actions” in the FAA statement and concludes the only solution the FAA will consider is a modification to the airplane. He then goes on to describe how difficult it will be to modify the battery, never even considering the airplane may actually return to service with no modification whatsoever. This could easily happen if the problem is determined to be a manufacturing issue with the batteries.
Mr. Arvai then explains why the 787 is unique, and in the process reveals he does not understand the architecture of the 787, or more conventional aircraft which came before it.
He talks about the unique risks of “a carbon fiber panel burning” because he does not know how the CFRP material has been tested in fuel-fed flame tests, done at FAA laboratories as a part of the certification of the structure. Go ahead Mr. Arvai; put a torch to it. It won’t burn.
Then there’s this gem:
Has he ever even had a basic overview of how a modern cockpit works? Does he really think everything the airplane knows is just splashed in front of the pilots with no prioritization or system to help them manage the information coming at them? Pilot workload and how information is prioritized and presented is fundamental to certification of any flight deck. He goes on to suggest the airplane should be squawking ATC “7700” so ATC can “alert the crew that the airplane should be put on the ground ASAP”. The lack of knowledge about how airplanes and this industry works is truly astounding.
I could go on and on, but suffice to say Mr. Arvai hardly strengthens his case by giving us an “analysis” so full of evidence he has not a clue about the airplane he is analyzing. In my view it is a garbage piece and the conclusions are no more sound than the rest of the article.
Finally, I’ll conclude on a statement that has really galled me. Mr. Arvai says:
I have no doubt there was a lively discussion over what measures were appropriate after the JAL incident. I have no doubt there were people who felt the airplane should be taken out of service and that there were others who felt a grounding could be avoided. I also have no doubt there were people making both arguments from both the FAA and from Boeing. To believe no one at Boeing agreed with the grounding, or that no one at the FAA recommended keeping the airplane in service is truly naive. These kinds of decisions are almost never made with absolute unity in the room. To broad brush Boeing as company without conservative voices is incorrect and patently unfair. But then again, ensuring accuracy was clearly not a priority when the piece was written.
CM, I appreciate your responses to some comments. Although for what it looks like, at least on this website, it won’t help. There is so much love for the 787 here that one would think the commentators are working for “Boeing.” I love this website for its many aviation related news, in fact, is one of the best. But you can just about pick a comment (which by the way are written by pretty much three or four different people) from a month ago and put it right next to one written today and they be very similar in content and in meaning. Pretty much a constant repetition of the same.
Wish they were more people willing to add to the discussion, but I guess once they read the first two or three comments they loose interest. That’s too bad, but that’s the way it is here.
View it as an op-ed piece, the details are not there, but, like I said above, I think he makes a good sumamry of the bigger picture.
p.s. I have yet to read ONE fully accurate engine related article in either AW or Flight (except those that are bland to the point of meaninglessness). So I stopped judging a technically related article on the details long ago. If I want details I go an look for a peer-reviewed scientific paper (from Turboexp, ISABE, or what have you), and even them are not always 100% correct.
“So yes, I believe Mr Arvai has concluded the 787 will be on the ground for 6-9 months.”
Mr Arvai says he thinks it will that long to solve the problem, certify the solution and modify all aircraft. In the paragraph prior he adresses temporary fixes. We shouldn’t attack him on things he doesn’t say.
Yeah right, put a torch to it — and keep it there.
Your style of writing is not only patronising, but this statement is an intellectually dishonest one as well. Perhaps you can give us the approximate value of the glass transition temperature for the thermoset epoxy resin matrix used in the hull structure of the 787?
BTW, here’s an interesting article on thermoplastic composites vs. thermoset composites.
There is no such thing as a glass transition point on thermoset plastics. Glass transition is the point that a thermoplastic loses its crystaline structure and begins to flow (which makes UHMW tricky because even after it hits its glass transition it still doesn’t flow). Thermosets never flow, they just degrade and decompose.
It is important not to apply generalities to specific applications. Some thermoplastics are very brittle (styrene, PEEK) and some thermosets are very elastic (vulcanized rubber). One can make a thermoset tougher by adding a elastc monomer into the structure. One fundamental problem with theromoplastics is at some temperature they will start to flow and lose all their mechanical properties.
Athough B and A use different matrix materials in their CFRP, I think one will find that both have very good toughness and flammability properties.
Also, put a torch on a piece of aluminum and hold it there – it too has problems.
Try it again on a panel of GLARE… toast some marshmallows… wait for the gas to run out… go home. 😉
Yes, you are, of course, right. It is thermoplastic polymers that will undergo a glass transition when they soften, and not thermoset polymers.
However, my point still stands. Put a torch flame against the hull at 330 ETOPS-minutes out from the nearest airfield, and let’s hope the chared and burned fuselage section will not degrade and decompose too much before landing. 😉
That’s not what Arvai says, even though you prefer to read that into his post.
If you care to read carefully, he says that he thinks it could take 6-9 months to certify changes and bring all aircraft in service and those in production up to the new standards. That’s hugely different from saying that all aircraft are going to be grounded for 6-9 months.
Just look at how long it will eventually have taken Airbus to certify and put in place the fixes for the wing rib cracks. However, there was indeed no grounding of the A380 for these issues at all.
Similarly, once the issues with the 787 are understood, it’s quite conceivable that it’s allowed back in the air with some restrictions or additional precautions to adhere to while a permanent fix is first certified and then put in place.
I won’t go through the rest of your post as it seems equally guided by a certain wish to be upset with AirInsight’s analysis, rather than an accurate read of it.
Which rather reminds me of the sentiments directed at anybody if they so much as dared suggest, in 2004/05, that Boeing’s 4-year development schedule for the 7E7/787 was very, very optimistic indeed, or in 2007, if you dared suggest that there may be a problem with the schedule if the plane had to be rolled out held together by bolts and nuts from the local DIY store.
Personally, by the way, I think we’ll see the 787 back in the air in the first week of February, but that 6 to 9 months to certify and implement a permanent fix probably isn’t too far off from what we’re going to see. Given that the JAL and the ANA incidents apparently had different immediate causes, troubleshooting and root causing both issues (and determining if they have a common cause somewhere up the line in the electrical system) is going to take a while before they can even start looking at remedies.
I’m happy to be proven wrong on this, of course.
Yesterday I read far worst than that:
“It’s the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries to power cabin-pressurization and other key functions.” It is so bad that I will refrain from naming the author.
Concerning the AirInsight article, at least I could understand what Ernest was trying to say, even though he was not always crystal clear. He is usually more coherent.
I always look forward to read his articles. He is one of the best editorialist in his specialty. I think I have never disagreed with anything I read from his pen (or keyboard). He has a rare commodity in this trade: a synthetic mind. He can grasp the whole of a situation like no others. A more analytical mind might be a little sharper on the details, but could also be unable to see the big picture like he does.
Now back to the article. What comes out clearly is the potential for a prolong delay before the 787 program can get back on its feet. I get the vertigo just tossing the numbers in my head. I bet you that Airbus probably thinks it’s not even funny.
I much prefer to take it one day at a time. It is less depressing. I can only imagine the level of stress in Chicago and Seattle. And Washington also. I am sure the FAA officials don’t have much time to relax these days. For we must keep in mind that there reputation is as much at stake as Boeing’s.
I mentioned Chicago, Seattle and Washington. But I forget Tokyo. They were the first to act. They quickly grounded the 787 fleet. If they had waited for the FAA to move first, the Dreamliners would probably still be flying today. They did the right thing, at the right time.
Boeing PR was pretty instrumental in making the Dreamliner bigger than life.
Who forex would previously have added all generator capability on a plane
into available power? Or “Lowest cabin altitude in a PLASTIC airliner” ( the plastic getting lost instantly ) Dreamliner literature is rife with over and missrepresentations.
In Boeings portrayal of achievements they live in a vacuum that shows a stepchange from 767 to 787 completely ignoring anything outside the Boeing Bubble.
It bewilders me former Boeing/ Continental excutive Bethune would have kept the 787s doing Pacific flights after the two uncontained battery failures and earlier incidents. He says Boeing management thinks so too.. Scary. NTSB has to look into that.
Inside this bubble his behaviour ( and Boeings, other participants ) is completely rational. imho.
In that bubble the Real World ( the place where the general public has to work for a living ) is only a faint echo that you can mostly ignore. Look at Boeings share value. Negligible impact.
3.82% of 52-wk high on 4 Jan. Not a lot, but presumably still based on a relatively small impact of the grounding (i.e. not prolonged, not leading to too much in terms of delivery delays, not going to cost too much to fix). If these assumptions go out the window, I would expect it to fall further – but it won’t skydive.
That will be seen.
Boeing appears to be a “stock managing” company.
And successfull at that.
If you look at longtime traces the various hickups and
delays had no strong influence on stock value.
Look at EADS for reflecting actual market oppinions ?
Keep in mind that Gordon Bethune before running Continental worked for Boeing for quite a while. He only ordered Boeing jet while at the arline. So yea, he is a huge Boeing fanboy, no doubt about it 🙂
“If you care to read carefully, he says that he thinks it could take 6-9 months to certify changes and bring all aircraft in service and those in production up to the new standards. ”
He also says that that’s going to be the delay. I think CM interprets that as a delay in getting the planes up in the air. It may however also just mean a delay in restarting deliveries, i.e. something similar in terms of quality to the delays Airbus has experienced in introducing the wing fix. Or it may mean that all the planes will be grounded for that period of time.
It’s true he doesn’t specifically rule out the possibility that the 787 could be grounded for that length of time (I also think it would be premature to say so), but he certainly doesn’t say that they are definitely going to be grounded for 6 to 9 months, he just thinks 6-9 months is the timeframe he expects the certification and implementation of any fix to take.
That, to me, seems reasonable enough.
The duration of the grounding would depend on the root cause(s), once identified, and whether there are adequate measures that can taken temporarily (additional checks and precautions, disabling of certain components, or similar) until a permanent fix is put in place.
A quote from Ernest Arvai’s article, “That batteries that failed on the ANA and JAL aircraft were supplied by GS Yuasa, who indicated that it may take six months to determine whether it was an issue with the battery, or longer if there is an issue with the electrical system on the airplane.”
It seems that Boeing’s battery supplier has already set the schedule, unless Mr. Arvai understood the info from GS Yuasa incorrectly or he is out and out lying?
As for the line about Boeing beiliving that the grounding is an overreaction, the Seattle Times article says pretty well the same thing, although nobody can be quoted on the issue. Granted, he could have worded it more diplomatically, as in perhaps, “some at Boeing believe..”.
Oh, and you seem to have overlooked this paragraph when you chided him about his knowledge of cockpit displays and procedures, “Interestingly, the ANA 787 did report a battery warning before takeoff — but it was on a screen pilots are unlikely to look at while running their pre-takeoff checks. At a minimum, an enhancement to the systems should be made to flash this alert in the cockpit to warn the pilots not to take off and not go further through the checklist, but return to the gate.”
You make it sound like if the Dreamliner was designed like the early Comet. I am sure Boeing would not repeat the same mistake. Besides, the FAA would not let them design a fuselage that is not fail-safe like all post Comet aircraft are required to be.
Some might argue that the FAA does not have enough expertise in composite material to make a proper assessment. But even then, I don’t think Boeing would be foolish enough to do such a stupid thing, even if the FAA let them do it due to a lack of expertise on their part.
To be really pedantic, the 787 *isn’t* fail-safe… it’s fatigue and damage tolerant! 😉
Or at least, it should be… 😉
well, my point was that most every journalist and his grandma were/are simpering over “Dreamliner is the first to bring lower cabin altitude and higher humidity” to passenger flying. Which is wrong. The carefully worded qualification from Boeing “plastic” designed to be lost in reporting.
You can find a wide range of similar carefullly prepared missrepresentations in the wild.
Certainly in relation to the 767 the 787 is quite a few steps in ahead. But less so versus A33/40, 777 or a380. Without the last 3 the 787 could be called revolutionary but in this reality the 787 is evolutionary and not much ahead of the a380 ( if even that ).
In your posts there is usually a large dose of humour, irony and sarcasm. Which makes it difficult for me to decipher what you are trying to convey.
Apparently I did not understand what you wrote in the initial post, and the following one is even more obscure to me.
The impression I have, not wanting to be overly judgemental, is that the European crowd in general will go to great lengths to discredit the Dreamliner. I have myself been quite critical at times of the 787, and continue to do so. But I still recognize its virtues. Only the future will tell us if it is the aircraft of the future.
But what troubles me, and I suspect it makes all the Airbus aficionados wince, is a statement like the following one:
“The Boeing Dreamliner, the technologically most advanced airplane in the world and a display of American superiority in technology.”
To place the above statement back in its original context you can click on the following link:
Initially: that specific sentence from Mr. Arvai is a (reinterated) oppinion. The way it is presented elsewhere insinuates that it is an obviously working piece of propaganda.
In review we just saw the partial culmination of a case where assumed superiority was achieved and “enforced” by all means possible : drugs, cheating, litigation, … Really : No holds barred.
With sufficient power people like that are globally dangerous.
I think your point is lost somehow – if the 787 had a 30,000 ft cabin pressure it would have the lowest cabin pressure since it is the only “plastic” (fuselage) airplane.
the 787 has a cabin pressue of 6000 feet, all other B planes are 8000 ft. Anybody know what the Airbus cabin pressures are?
I also don’t see how you could think that the aforementioned planes are not evolutions of the 747/L1011/DC-10/A300. All were Al HB turbofan twin aisles with similar design philosophies. thie only big evolution was FBW introduced on the A320, and possibly CFRP tail structure. Perhaps the A380, with its CFRP wing.
The 787 and A350 have radical changes relative to their predessors – Just read all the blasting of CFRP, electrical systems, Li Batteries.
I regret to have to inform you Uwe that I totally agree with your statement.
I remember with a profound disgust all the propaganda that surrounded the introduction of the 777. It was presented to the world as an absolutely extraordinary achievement of mankind. Enough so to make the average person think that the A330/A340 was a piece of shit, compared to the marvel the 777 was.
We had to endure that distasteful propaganda until the 787 was launched. But there was no replete. The Hype surrounding the Dreamliner introduction was fast becoming another example of Extreme Hubris. That’s when the shit hit the Fans.
The A380 cruises at 5000″ A340/A330/777 occupy a range from 6500″ .. 7500″
There has been no technological stepchange.
Except for cabin air and deice you will have problems showing 787 revolutionary aspects. progress, for sure, systems evolve. A lot of 787 revolution has been prototyped on the A380.
Now I understand what you were trying to say! I reread your posts and I think that what you basically said is that the cabin altitude of the 787 was introduced by Boeing as a first for a commercial aircraft; and the reason given was that the Dreamliner fuselage was made of CFRPlastic. And they did this knowing two things:
1- It was not true because the A380 was already flying with the same cabin altitude and a metallic fuselage. Which makes it a double lie.
2- The public would buy this because the intentional association of CPRP fuselage and lower cabin altitude would make them believe that the former is required to achieve the latter.
It’s hard for me, who can be at times quite naive, to believe that all this was done on purpose and deliberately. But I am afraid it may very well be.
Pervasive. It reaches into all nooks and crannies of this business. FUD works. I’ve watched Microsoft’s assault on Linux and you can point out all the instruments used in this environment too.
Now do we expect this influencing to stop hard at the FAA doors? Diminishing returns maybe, but “stop” it certainly did not..
And look at how involved parties are attacked: The chamberpot emptied over AirIndia and other participants that did lack in product cheering. And then we have “The chineese certification authority must certainly try to blackmail FAA into accepting below par COMAC planes”. Realy no other reason to hold 787 cert back?
No idea how well EASA sits between competing interests.
Could you please be more specific Uwe and give us concrete examples to substantiate your statement.
Off the top of my head, I can think of the biggest single piece of carbon-reinforced fibre in aviation at the time (I actually think it still is), as well as the use of Li-Ion batteries (although to a lesser extent).
Nevertheless, I’d still say the 787 is revolutionary. It combined a whole lot of technologies that already existed and took them a step further, particularly in the scale of their application.
Make no mistake – those were huge steps. But it’s not like they came out of the blue, with no prior groundwork pioneered particularly by the 777, A330 and A380, e.g. regarding the use of carbon fibre. Similarly, once you’ve gone fly-by-wire (the 787 only being Boeing’s 2nd ever FBW airplane), it is still a step to replace hydraulic actuators with electric ones – but in itself, it’s really an evolution, not a revolution. Bleedless engines were mentioned prominently in the PR on launch – that’s an approach pioneered by the DC-8 in the 1950s.
One other thing is of course revolutionary about the 787, which is the amount of outsourcing and off-shoring undertaken for the programme. As also outlined in the Forbes article provided by DomTom, that did bring some problems, particularly coupled with the many changes in processes and materials (and the scale of their use) introduced on the 787.
Thermoplastic in primairy structures, high pressure hydraulics technology, 25% composites in many primairy structures which is more weight then the 787. IMO this technology transfer is mainly via the many subcontractors Airbus and Boeing share. The A350 benefits in the same way from the 787.
Of the top of my head ( and some points could probably be discussed ) :
single piece CFRP pressure bulkhead.
Hybrid actuators. What Airbus calls EHA, EBHA, THSA, …
Variable Frequency AC electrics ( generator, busses, managing collision free switching, adaption of power sinks). remote switching
“Simple” highliftdevices. Boeing is following Airbus longstanding path of simple ( as in less complex but of comparable or better performance ) wing designs.
hybrid system design : combined hydraulic and electric redudancy
A380 : 2H 2E :: 787 : 3H 2?E ( no idea which system achieves better orthogonality )
Cabin altitude 5000″ nominal ( 1000″ below 787 )
Humidity management condensation sinks in the crown, evaporation for fresh air.
( actually from the same swedish company and with rain in the plane Boeing didn’t get it quite right initially )
installed power on the 787 must be significantly higher due to
A: Deice being electric 75++kW ( on demand )
B: Airconditioning being electric ( no value found but my guess is >100kW continuous )
due to allegedly “more electric” flightcontrols
Never answered: Does the system allow more than 1 generator online per bus ?
( I don’t think so. i.e. max avalilable power at any time is probably 500kVA )
That is another common misconception. The first aircraft to be outsourced on a grand scale is the Bombardier Global Express, which was introduced in 1993. It was the first time I had ever herd the expression “Risk Sharing Partners”.
Interesting your comment on the DC-8. I had completely forgotten about that. IIRC they were using freon in the air conditioning system. It was all located in the nose, hence the two nostrils in the front, which add to its natural beauty.
Hmm, I forgot about that, but it seems it was still quite different in scale – do you have any numbers on the percentage of work outsourced?
It seems they mostly relied on Bombardier-owned subsidiaries like Short Brothers, Canadair, and de Havilland Canada, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries being the main outside supplier. So I’d still say the scope of 787 outsourcing is at a whole different level – contrary to the 787 for instance, the Global Express wasn’t developed completely from scratch. Also, the Global Express mostly outsourced known processes and materials, while Boeing tried to change everything at the same time – technologies, materials, processes, and the global development/supply chain.
Surely the formation of Airbus itself for the A300 would be an even larger example of risk-sharing?!? That was a bunch of totally independent companies spread all over Europe, all with their own suppliers and methods, to try and bash out a single new aircraft type together.
And although the various governments were backing the whole thing, there wasn’t a single almighty backer & integrator taking charge like there was in the Bombardier or 787 cases.
What Bombardier did in 1993 was unprecedented. But Someone is right, we should also give credit to Airbus for having pioneered the concept. But it was done more for social and political considerations. In the case of Bombardier it was a well thought out business plan. BBD at the time would not have been able to pull that project alone. They needed risk sharing partners.
We could say the same of France at the beginning of Airbus; they also needed risk sharing partners, because they would have been unable to do it all by themselves. But it was a political undertaking. For Bombardier it was strictly business, with no politics involved.
I never made the connection before, but I now realize that all the 787 bashing stems from the Hype surrounding the Dreamliner. The more propaganda there is, the more bashing that will ensue. One feeds on the other.
Is setting hype in perspective equivalent to bashing ?
When I looked for good sources of information during the A380 gestation english publications and fora provided the best information.
But I was flabbergasted at the time over the aggressive, demeaning and factually wrong input from a signifcant segment of US posters.
Later I understood that this was in part grassroots hurt feeling but also preparation of the public towards the 787 travails by way of astroturfing.
One has to wonder if all the Boeing Dreamliner bashing of the last 8 years was all bashing in hindsight. Maybe a good percentage of it was common sense, dismissed as bashing by fanatic Boeing supporters. It tend to think so looking back. I remember strings of a.net posts where the wisdom of the 787 innovation/ timetable combination was questioned. They were quickly dismissed as jealousy, flamebait, Boeing bashing. Even by moderators. When reality was even worse then feared everyone just looked ahead optimistically. For years.
You make me realize that I should have pointed out the difference between legitimate criticism and gratuitous bashing. I also believe that many people who call “bashing” a legitimate criticism are often the same people participating in the propaganda. In some cases it is deliberate, but in other instances it is done unconsciously.
It’s good to see a lot of technical fact based discussion here and not the usual “he said, she said” political rhetoric – from both camps. If I, and I suspect many others who frequent the blog really were interested in this – they would be on political forum blogs. I can forgive either A or B trying to put a marketing spin on things. And all things considered I think this blog is surprising balanced overall – most of us have a bias (some far more extreme than others) if for no other reason than lack of information from the other side. And one can be biased towards one side an yet be critical of some of their actions – that is good science. The reality that “revolutions” in any technical or scientific are are truly rare and almost all cases it is evolution at work, and neither A or B has a monopoly on that.
The A380 truly does have some revolutionary technologies as the posts pointed out in detail; I wouldn’t have lumped it with the other planes which were much more evolutions. The most “revolutionary” parts of the 777 design IMO were the big jump in engine thrust (yes the engine makers get that one) and the designed in ETOPs capability which opened truly long range twins to operate. It, like the A330 were just very good designs for the market and their sales show that. Both the A380 and 787 were truly more revolutionary than the other technologically; the real debate for both of them is do they work from a business/economic sense. Which points out a fundamental point about the commercial airplane business. Does it make economic sense to introduce realy innovative designs?
To a couple of specific points:
1. CFRP and fire – Let’s hope that you are wrong about this for both the 787 and the A350’s sake; I have faith that this was very thoroughly researched by both companies. The Glare point (good by the way) also points out that the fibers remain intact even when the matrix starts to fail.
Also, one of the really important things that ETOPs did was to require fire extinguishing systems to be able to handle fire suppression for extended periods of time.
2. Pressurization – never considered that as revolutionary – agree that it is evolutionary and good to know the real pressures of the cabins.
3. Normand #68 – in context it was tongue in cheek at best; #73 not defending a position, just trying to get the facts, and that we have now. Thanks uwe.
3. annfromme #76 – yes A380 wing was big and revolutionary, not sure if it is bigger than the B-2 wing/fuselage. The 787 does have the largest wound structure, and this was an evolution from the Sea Launch technology.
4. Uwe #78 – high lift devices have continuously evolved from triple slotted flaps of 727/747-100 era down to present practice of larger, lower wing loading designs with simpler high lift. DC-10 simple pivot flaps probably was the earliest commercial example, post-1960’s that is.
Hydraulics: 787 5K PSI system – (what is the A380?) most of the surge power comes from electric motors allowing less power draw from engines during cruise (not revolutionary).
Electrical – I think it is 3E, but can’t verify. No doubt A380 pushed many of the technologies that 787 adapted. The VAC is converted to DC and multple generators can be combined at that stage I presume. The big changes that draw so much power are 1. Electric engine start, electrically driven ECS compressors (the biggest draw) more electrically driven hydraulic pumps, wing de-ice. All these allow less power to be drawn at different flight points. LED lighting throughout.
One that I think is new(?) is liquid cooling for the high power electronics and centralized liquid cooling for cabin cooling air and galleys (electric heat pumps).
The A380 had 5000psi hydraulics.
Re te carbon winded fuselage, I guess the enormous A380 tail cone is too winded and Hawker Beechcraft used it too.
wings, high lift devices : I was referencing this:
NASA Contractor Report 4746, High-Lift Systems on Commercial Subsonic Airliners
by Peter K. C. Rudolph ( got a copy but lost the link ) quite an interesting read imho.
apropos cooling : I would find it interesting to know about thermal throughput
for electronics cooling and what average environmental temp to expect in the
various E-bays. Usually with excessive power dissipation your entry tech level for the application was too low. You would have been better off waiting for generational progress.
Power Electronics really is progressing in large steps these days. Automotive and PV being large driver.
Not sure exactly what you are asking about for thermal throughput and what you are thinking in thermal tech level. You make the key point about Power Electronics – Billions are being poured into this technology in auto and alternative energy. That is why it is a good strategy IMO to build an airplane that should be in production for decades to start with that technology. (with the caveat that it it safe!). It is much easier to introduce upgraded electronics later on than it is to introduce a whole new architecture. So I think in this case B was quite innovative and also introduced more risk.
Efficiencies are rapidly improving so thermal loads should drop over time. I’m sure the A350 design has this in mind (anybody know?). The question would be does the A380, which has many of these features have the architecture to take full advantage of these improvements in the future? It will be very hard to eliminate the bleed air system later…
On the 787 the high power electronics is located in the aft bay to minimize the lengths of large cables. The avionics and “logical” parts remain in the nose ee bay. Liquid cooling is used for in units that generate large quantities of heat so that it can be dumped out into external heat exchangers. Lower heat generating units use traditional air cooling. The general ambient temperator is warm, but not excessive for a person to stay in the bay.
“thermal throughput” : How much waste heatflow to manage for the energy handled.
Early entry, risk.
If you enter a (new) technology field too early your design will be limited by the current limitations.
And you will be hampered by the still existing lack of maturity for this specific technology.
Later the conversion to a more approriate now mature techlevel is hampered by the curlicues you had to insert to integrate a less than mature technology early on.
Sometimes maturation takes sharp turns. Like forex starting from a simple sled progress is not a better more sohisticated sled but a wheeled platform.
( in my professional career I have now produced 4 improving but methodically distinct designs providing the same functionality ( with improved performance over time),
each leveraging the most promising (fast improving parts driven by mainstream interest) available tech. 4 distinct S-curves of product maturation.)
Thus your product will often stay a limited compromise
and you have burned quite a lot of money and you will continue to do so.
Finally, in my book maturation happens in low risk applications.
( financial as well as in corporal risk )
Where are we with Glare? I know it was used for large fuselage sections on the A380, but what about the A350? How does it compare with CFRP and Al-Li?
By the way, I like the idea of having lithium in the fuselage, but not in batteries! 😉
Even in batteries I don’t see an absolute no. The problem vultures circle over “embedded certification”.
Remember “embedded reporters” were the downfall for responsible journalism.
When The FAA jointly announced with Boeing that it was going to conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787’s critical systems, including their design, manufacture and assembly, they appeared more inbedded than embedded. 😉
GLARE (and other fibre-metal laminates) has been largely overshadowed by the recent CFRP hype. I am hopeful it will still find itself a place closer to the spotlight in the not too distant future since it’s technically an excellent material (just not as “fashionable” as composites at the moment). More than that I can’t really comment…
Could it be that it is more expensive to manufacture?
GLARE is more expensive than aluminium, obviously, and was more expensive than CFRP last time I heard (which was quite a long time ago). It should be of the same order of cost as CFRP, however, since the manufacturing of the material is more or less the same… while construction of a panel can be done in composite style (bonding, co-curing) or aluminium style (cheaper cut/bend/rivet methods).
Someone opined that GLARE ( or newer derivatives ) does not yet succumb to mass production gains. i.e. it is still higher cost than expected.
I never had a question answered so quickly! Check the clock on our two posts. 🙂
Was that for a satellite?
An early low power version is “under way”. All others are in use in ground and plane based remote sensing systems.