NTSB briefing on 787 today

The National Transportation Board will have a briefing today at 2:30 ET. In advance of the briefing, NTSB issued this terse statement:

The following factual information has been developed about the battery: It consists of eight cells of 3.7 volts each. All eight cells had varying degrees of thermal damage. Six of eight cells have been CT scanned and have been disassembled to expose their electrodes. All electrode windings in the battery are in the process of being photo-documented and are undergoing microscopic examination. In the coming days, the remaining two cells will undergo the same examination. Additional information will be provided tomorrow.

Meanwhile, The Seattle Times has this story about the battery system.

The Wall Street Journal has this story about Boeing’s innovation for the 787.

41 Comments on “NTSB briefing on 787 today

  1. One question will be if all cells cooked off syncronously
    or a single cells thermal excursion forced the remainder into sympathetic behaviour.
    On burning down your lab:

    Having a cell explode, burn or burst in an experiemental lab setup is not really an issue.
    One may actually try to force it. The path to destruction needs to be known!
    Having your (lab)building burn down shows quite a bit of carelessness and naivety.

    I’ve looked at the patent that securaplane holds for charging LI-Ion. It appears to be suceptible to changes/aging in the battery. And additionally you don’t try to charge a system to 100% if you know that 101% is a certain path to destruction.
    Take a 10% higher nominal capacity battery and charge that to 90%. so easy to be safe.

    • Battery life: For the Dreamliner this seems to initially have been 6 month
      after a change in battery chemistry expectable life is projected to be 4 years.

      This would imho indicate heavy abuse by way of hugging destructive parameter limits.
      i.e. too hot, too much cycles too high currents in and/or out.

      The advertised advantage of LI-Ion was high capacity, low weight, long life, low maintainance.

      The Saft cells used by Airbus, Lange aviation for the Antares and a lot of space applications are designed for 20 years aging @20°C down to 80% capacity and 3000 SAE cycles at similar temperatures. ( capacity reduction ending usefull life )

      • Are you suggesting that the Saft battery might have been a better choice for Boeing?

  2. I agree, don’t charge/recharge it to full capacity.
    Also does all elctrolite have an oxydizer like that in Li-Ion batteries, or is this special juice?

  3. Seems to be that the true dangers of this battery have either been ignored or covered up. I’m gob smacked that Boeing used these batteries. A severe lack of judgement on their part.

    • Not really, the “true dangers” were thought to be under control. Seems some more tweaking is required, but they’ll sort it out in the end.

    • Do you say the same thing about Airbus or manufacturers who have been using Li Ion batteries for over a decade in service?

      • No, because those batteries are working as they should. It seems clear to me that Boeing was well aware that the batteries they were using had problems. E.g. The battery explosion in Arizona during testing. Boeing claim an incorrect test was performed – but do they know that for sure?

        • matjamca, reading your posts, you are accusing Boeing of criminal activity by using Li-Ion batteries and knowingly they WILL destroy the airplane and all aboard. What proof do you have?

          That seems like a hell of a way to get repeat customers to buy your products.

          BTW, the fire happened in 2006 and Boeing didn’t get FAA approval to use the batteries until 2007.

      • Topboom we are not in court here.
        Criminal behaviour or not may well be eventually determined by a US court.
        I would like to add significantly reduced service life for the batteries. See my post #2.
        Having your parts die a premature death is cause for exemplary caution and not for unleashing the PR department.

      • Top Boom

        I’m not accusing Boeing of any criminal activity. But I find it hard to believe they where happy to go ahead and use these batteries knowing what the consequences could be. In the articles I’ve read, Boeing claim the explosion in Arizona was due to an incorrect test setup – but did they investigate that further? From what I’ve gathered they didn’t. You may know differently.

        Boeing have hidden things in the past? How about the cargo door on the 747 that would open on its own. The parents of the New Zealand guy who died determined (by stealing report evidence) that Boeing was aware of the problem before that accident happened.

        I’m just glad the 787 has been grounded. I would not feel confident flying this aircraft at all. Boeing seem to have rushed this project to bring such an ‘innovative’ plane to market first. But I guess they are paying the consequences now.

        Don’t get me wrong. I love the 787 but I don’t trust it’s safe. Even the FAA had to rely on Boeing’s expertise to understand the technology. But if Boeing have got it wrong, the FAA have certified a plane unsafe for flight.

    • I wouldn’t say “ignored or covered up”. But other than that I am in complete agreement with what you say.

      • a vicious circle.
        Boeing management will present themselves as innocents “see, it has been certified by the FAA, it must be ok” but the returnswing is in the lack of autonomy in FAA performance.

        CM presented imu a similarly derived argument. Because the 787 is certified it must meet all prerequisites ( and those prerequisites are sufficient as deemed by FAA. ). He argued with conformance to process where the question raised was “is the process as described actually functional”.

  4. It states (my exact wording, not NYT): FAA will not lift the flight ban (grounding) until the cause(s) of the battery fires is/are understood. From GS Yuasa we heard earlier in the week they think it could take up to 6 months to understand the cause…

    CM, also earlier this week, with some energy called Mr Arvais write-up over at AirInsight unrealistic (or to that effect) when mentioning a continued grounding for up to 6 months.

    With the information now in NYT (from Huerta) it seems that the FAA is playing it safe… (to salvage/improve their reputation?) and that Mr Arvai was maybe not so far off as CM claimed…

    Any other views?

    • The last 6..7 years have seen intensive media warfare ( though most have not preceived it as such ) and all the steamrolled writers are now returning in a zombie tide 😉
      ( take a cue from LotR )

    • My reading of the situation is the same. There will be tremendous amount of ass-covering going on in FAA this moment. FAA is coming under congress scrutiny, they will have to prove their certification of 787 didn’t cut any corners (after previous Eclipse certification left foul odor).

      For this reason I have hard time to believe that FAA will sign off Dreamliners return to air very fast. Everyone in FAA will want to have their ass covered and Boeing proposed temporary measures (frequent battery tests, pilot change of procedures, nearby diversion airports on allowed routes and more) might not be enough. The thinking on FAA part will be that until the final fix is found an inflight battery issue might happen again (even though the proposed measures might reduce that risk significantly). So, unless FAA is 100% convinced that existing 787 design in terms of battery fire containment is rock-solid and the aircraft will not go down due to battery fire under any circumstances, the return to flight will not happen.

      The quoted 6 months might not be too far of the mark.

        • Am I the only one who wishes people on the internet would announce scheduling to the “rest of the world” in UTC instead of their own local timezones…?

      • I suspect Uwe is not actually in EST. Anyway, timezones are easy enough to convert … I appreciated he link and the heads-up.

  5. SomeoneInToulouse :
    Am I the only one who wishes people on the internet would announce scheduling to the “rest of the world” in UTC instead of their own local timezones…?

    (It’s 19:30 UTC, by the way…)

  6. Normand Hamel :
    Looks like an empty PowerPoint presentation to me. There is no serious discussion in there. Maybe there was never any serious discussion after all!

    works for me, 28 slides from an Airbus presentation, sorry.
    use another pdf viewer?
    me@home > pdfinfo 20-3-1b.pdf
    Title: Slide 1
    Author: koshorst_c
    Creator: Acrobat PDFMaker 8.1 for PowerPoint
    Producer: Acrobat Distiller 8.1.0 (Windows)
    CreationDate: Di 20 Mär 2012 14:04:54 CET
    ModDate: Di 20 Mär 2012 14:06:17 CET
    Tagged: yes
    Pages: 28
    Encrypted: no
    Page size: 612 x 792 pts (letter)
    File size: 12130444 bytes
    Optimized: yes
    PDF version: 1.4

    do other pdf show the same emptiness?

    • Exact! Twenty-eight (28) empty slides. No substance. But lots of flashy pictures. Sorry Uwe, but I learned that PowerPoint sarcasm from you! 😉

      • Touché.
        Sure, it is nothing revolutionary. But it held enough info on your question at the time to make it mentionable.

  7. Uwe :
    a vicious circle.

    Or maybe a pernicious circle. For Boeing is now hurting the FAA’s reputation as much as the FAA is hurting Boeing’s. Both are under scrutiny at the moment. And when they find out that the FAA never had the budget to carry out its mission, it will be the government that will come under scrutiny.

  8. Public private partnership gone wrong. double whammy instead of public detriment only so to speak.
    Afaics it is a longbuilding process.

  9. Worker says he was fired by ‘Securaplane’ for raising safety concerns over the chargers for the Dreamliner the company says the was ‘proto types’ i am still in shock about the grounding so soon in servis after seeing the airliner at LHR i hope the FAA/ Boeing can sort the mess out.

  10. This whole issue re batteries and containing fire in case is gettting ridiculous – What the * were they thinking ?? A fire on board normally requires landing at the first place that can take you. On the seattle times – John Nance made it very clear – if smoke in the cockpit or an indication of something on fire- he will land it ASAP – no looking at a manual .

    I am reminded of a comment by a famous author Ernie Gann ( which he might have borrowed and embellished – not sure ) and paraphrased here since I cannot at the moment find it on line – so from memory relating to unplanned events ‘ fate ‘

    ** Sometimes what no one will admit is that the magical genie called fate has unzipped his pants and urinated on the pillars of science “

      • yes- I knew that and long ago read the book- several times

        and for several years before he passed ( 1991) – he lived near seattle in the San Jaun islands.

        For those young’uns who have NOT read the book – it is a great collection of ” air stories” many- most of which he was personally involved- and a few which were made into movies.

  11. thysi :
    I suspect Uwe is not actually in EST. Anyway, timezones are easy enough to convert … I appreciated he link and the heads-up.

    To be clear, I was not criticising Uwe – my point was that the NTSB is not at all the only American to make announcements to the rest of the world at (for us) “unknown” times.

    If anyone gives a time in UTC/GMT I can quickly know what time that will be for me wherever I am. When a time is given as EST, PETT, AMST, ICT or whatever I first have to find out what the hell time zone that is, and then convert that to UTC and only then make the last (easy) step to my local time. Be a bit more broad-minded and consider the rest of the world!

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