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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

    Wise statement!

  2. “McGinn is up for reelection and has proved to be a lefty-wacko who is very vulnerable. ”

    We ought to not read such comments on this website, sad…

  3. The big difference between drones and helicopters?
    That’s quit easy. I can hear a helicopter in front of my bedroom window.
    Does anybody remember some scenes from “Blue Thunder”?

    • Not only hear them, you can see a helicopter pretty darned easily as well. A drone hovering a couple of hundred metres up will be quite a potent spy, though.

      Not being paranoid, but the “why complain if you’ve got nothing to hide?” takes away from the fact that you (should) have a right to privacy! Same with CCTV everywhere, Google, Apple and Microsoft wanting to know far too much about you, etc.

      1984 is already alive and well.

    • The main difference is in costs and thus in scale. With helicopters and planes LAPD can’t watch and track 100 suspects all day and night. With drones that is now possible. They are cheaper to purchase and cheaper to operate, which is why they are used in military.

      And this is just a beginning. Give it few years of HW and SW development, and you will be able to achieve continuous 24/7/365 surveillance of large areas, even whole cities, with handful of people and mid-sized budget. Something you never could do with good old human piloted helicopters and that’s why it’s qualitatively different thing.

  4. the only consensus that counts…

    The other question is whether Boeing’s fix will actually prevent fires breaking out after the plane goes back into service. With two fires in a week, the risk is not hypothetical.

    Any remedial action to address an unknown cause is going to be moot. Then there’s the containment issue. As the National Transportation Safety Board pointed out, how did a battery that is specifically required to prevent fire spreading from cell to cell get certified when there was no effective containment in place?

  5. Good to see progress on the B-787 being made.

    I’ll stay away from the drone/privacy issue with Mayor McGinn. I got the message on political commentary from an earlier post I made.

  6. “There seems to be a consensus building in the industry” – would that be the airplane manufacturing industry, the airline industry, or the financial industry, or the “for lack of factual news we make something up” industry? 😉

  7. Tesla story ~= immature product, immature infrastructure.
    There is a difference between doing a Testosterone Toy
    and delivering a utility product.
    Lots to learn. ( The problems aren’t too different to B’s & their 787 ?)

    PR and Engineering are orthogonal capabilities.

    • You were doing just fine until you just HAD to take a swipe at Boeing. You just can’t turn off the fanbo… er Cheerleader in you, can you? Always got to make that last dig. It gets really old.

    • Uwe :
      Tesla story ~= immature product, immature infrastructure.

      It’s probably worth noting that Tesla have published details from the logs of the Model S that the NYT reporter drove. Those logs hugely contradict what that reporter had to say about the car, which appeared to at least be partly motivated by a pre-existing dislike of electrical cars.
      Here’s Tesla’s statement on the story:
      http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

      • read it, Intensive back and forth between Tesla and NYT.

        Waiting for the smoke to clear.

  8. Being quite vigilant about political comments by commenters, and rightly so, I find the above post somewhat confusing. Sure, its Leehams blog and therefore decides what is written, but having one standard for visitors and one for oneself I’d say is more than a little dubious.

    I come here for the excellent aerospace reporting. The political op-eds I can (and do) read elsewhere.

    As for drones, while practical, the distancing of the operator from the theatre of operation, and hence from the subject, removes the operator empathically from the situation. I think this is a major moral end ethical problem for the all use of drones, regardless of where and with what intent they are used. Not so for a manned aerial vehicle. In my _opinion_ the removed risk to the pilot does nothing, or very little, to compensate for that.

    But as this is not a blog about ideals, beliefs, etc, I will make this one comment on the matter.

  9. Rudy Hillinga Why is filling out these two lines a new equirement every time I write somethingScott?

    “an interim fix developed this month and the aircraft should return to revenue
    service next month.”
    I sure as H. hope so but I NOT believe it, because once an a/p has been
    grounded, a very serious issue, an interim fix sounds like wishful thinking to me.

    • Interim Fix : inside a month

      1: That would imho indicate that the FAA has been carefully and with finality neutered, lobotomised, waterboarded, reeducated …. i..e relegated to a consierge job : open doors, carry bags, smile and maybe putting a stamp on some piece of paper.

      2: The fix is nothing more than a sheetmetalbox around the existing battery.

      • Yes, so we are not going to bother finding out why these batteries melted down then, just build a bigger box to contain the fire? Boeing have built an aircraft that is so ‘complex’ that it is impossible to fault find buts thats OK as Boeing have weakened the FAA to the point where they are now unable to insist that US manufacturers find out why their aircraft are suffering fires. This is disturbing.

      • Uwe… what an asinine comment on the FAA. Have you any actual proof to supoprt such bold claims?

        Why would an interim fix be a problem. I bet the 747 or 777 has a battery capable of the requirements for the problematic battery on the 787 in volts, amps and watts. That should only require systems integration testing which could potentially be done on the ground – surely feasible within a month.

        And what if it is just a box around the battery? It’ll be safe or it will not be allowed to fly. Previous comments pointed out an inoperable apu is not a problem for continued ETOPS flight – it only becomes a problem after you land safely. Then you’ll have to replace it. So what if that’s after every single flight? It may not be economical, but it will be safe.

        flight is inherently unsafe. it is not the role of regulators to make it safe, but to make it safe enough. I can think of several quick fixes that will return to a safe enough design. either swap the battery or contain any malfunction. Things are allowed to break if it doesn’t impair the basic robustness and inherent safety of the certified design.

        • Donkeys neither have a strong herd nor a strong flight instinct.
          They are not plains animals were that would make sense.
          So they wont go forward without good understanding about what
          lies ahead.

          As long as a trigger mechanism for battery death is not known
          you can’t let the 787 fly in revenue service as you can not make
          valid prediction on the maximum probability for battery death.
          ( and that will certainly not be something near 1./50000 but much
          higher. )
          Think about some unknown chance interaction that will raise probability
          to near certainty.

          Remember the Pitot tubes were the regular probability for a triple fault
          was extremely low but was changed to 1 ( i.e. certainty ) by going over
          the defined and certified performance envelope.

          If the mechanism is understood and probability is low enough you can
          probably fly the 787 with an addon battery containment as an interim sollution.

      • But if they demontrate with an in flight induced batteryfire, that the fire is savely contained and fumes vented out? – What’s then?

      • It’s an interim fix, not a final solution.
        the full understanding of the problem is part of the latter, an interim fix is meant just to contain and suppress symptoms. Additional inspections of rib-feet on the 380 is an interim solution to the feet-cracking problem since it prevents any such crack from developping into real problems. the 380 fleet could continue to fly
        The final solution is replacement of the feet – but since that is a much more massive undertaking, a short-term stop-gap procedure was put in place to get the 380’s back to work till their next major overhaul.

        the same is true with the 787. Containing any problem within a protective casing will solve the immediate problem and allow 787’s to go back to work. The final solution may be months in the making and may take days to implement (thus, wait for the next overhaul)

        • See Normand Hamel collected cites.

          A containment could be a fix if the fault case is >2/100,000 failure rate with unknown triggers. i.e. a change in operations could raise probability significantly even into the realm of certainty. ( see my other post )

          A temporary fix may be a cludge but it must conform to savety requirements.
          ( IMHO the “change pitots” fix that got quite the attention at its time is a good comparison.
          hindsight shew that loss of all sensors was much less a Thales versus Goodrich quality thing than an exceeding envelope issue. The change to .. AD was thus a poke in the dark.
          More productive would have been a requirement to train loss of sensors. .. If wishes were .. )

    • Normand, KC, Rudy et al: To reiterate points from my January 25th comment, starting when a fix is found it could still be several months more before every 787 is “all better”.

      Here’s why:
      – design the production installation,
      – ground test it,
      – flight test it
      if everything works –
      – demonstrate it to the FAA for certification
      – frantically start assembling parts for out-of-sequence production installation on everything in the factory and on the field.
      – after each production installation is designed and certified and installed on a new airplane, Boeing crews will be working 24/7 to get each one delivered.
      – at the same time other engineering and production teams will even more frantically be designing and building No Charge retrofit service bulletin kits for all 50+ previously-delivered airplanes, [keep in mind production installs something where nothing exists yet; Retrofit has to tear out the bad and put in the good. That could be a lot more complicated]
      – any airline that needs help with their first kit will probably demand [and get] a Boeing on-site AOG team to show them how. Also at No Charge.
      Finally each customer’s senior execs and lawyers will be demanding to be reimbursed for lost revenue plus retrofit down time and labor.

      One more thing, also from Janiary 25th: we are still waiting for those who made the 787 program’s many idiotic outsourcing decisions to take the responsibility and the blame for their catastrophic choices, and resign from Boeing, never to be heard from again.

      [PS – Rudy, it’s OK to just sign your name. We all have to fill in the two lines every time]

    • I think an interim fix in the sense of beefed-up containment/cooling is acceptable as long as

      a) this is shown to genuinely “contain” all battery failure modes in flight conditions

      b) procedures are put in place to monitor for warning signs and direct crews on how to respond appropriately

      c) a more robust solution, covering battery and any other electrical issues, is developed and adopted within a reasonable time frame.

      If they’re talking about lifting the ban within a matter of weeks, but they don’t seem to have identified a new source of the issue, then rapid manufacturing of new battery boxes (based on the existing cells and systems) is the only plausible way out.

  10. “assumptions used to certify the battery system proved wrong, the NTSB said Thursday”

    Let us not be short sighted
    Today, Everybody is focused on the battery system
    But there are lots of other potential issues.
    For instance, Is anybody sure that “assumptions used to certify the composite fuselage system” will prove right?????
    It is quite obvious that certification is not what it used to be any more.
    And it is not what it should be!
    In particular for new technologies….
    The right questions are not always asked by the small FAA guy to the 600 pound gorilla on the other side of the table….

    NTSB or FAA should ask some old retired safe pairs of hands to come back and bring their expertise, JIM ALBAUGH, VINCE WELDON, etc…
    They will bring ideas for additional checks, as this grounding must be the last.
    Vince will certainly ask for flying ZA prototypes in tropical storms for hours on end, to accumulate extensive lightning experience….
    Some additional tail strike testing could be useful as well….
    And also strikes by ramp vehicles (as a reminder:” a large number of people using equipment in a relatively small area, often under considerable time pressure, creates an environment in which aircraft and equipment can, among other things, be damaged. Undetected aircraft damage from ramp activities, whether to metallic or composite structures, can cause in-flight emergencies. In December 2005, for example, an Alaska Airlines MD-80 that had
    departed from Seattle for Burbank, California, experienced a sudden cabin depressurization. After the aircraft safely returned to Seattle, it was discovered that a ramp vehicle had punctured the aircraft fuselage, but the incident had not been reported.”)
    all this followed by extensive deep non destructive testing of the frame, as it is the only way to make sure that the frame is still in good condition.
    I am fully aware that composite NDT is awfully slow and costly, but the beauty of composites is that visual checking is not worth one dime, VINCE knows!
    FAA has the bad habit of implementing serious testing on new technologies AFTER they have failed.
    Do not wait for composite failures for implementing creative testing.
    Better late than sorry!

    Some qualified people had serious doubts on the filament winding technology.
    As we are not sure that certification jobs were appropriate, it might be wise to double check some of these certification jobs, for instance long term resistance of composites to lightning , tail strike, resistance to hits from ramp vehicles…..
    A second grounding of the 787 fleet would no doubt be fatal to the 787 SERIES and probably to BOEING.

    • Certification is exactly what it used to be. Back when we went from linen covered wood to metal, when we introduced pressurized cabins, turbofan engines, fly-by-wire – back when we were actually doing new things instead of just scaling up or down existing designs as we have mostly been doing since the 60’s.
      Certification is trying to proof that something new meets or exceeds the inherent safety of the old. The further you deviate from the known, the harder it becomes to proof that safety because you can no longer depend on the failures and hard learned lessons of the past.
      The 787 combines a radically different material with an evolved systems architecture. The 380 combines evolved materials with much more massive dimensions (relative to the 330/340 – airbus’ previous experience). They both run into the unknown-unknowns problem.

      Do you have much experience in certification of composites? I do not work for Boeing but I know what sort of testing is performed to derive a composite engineering allowable. The sort of damage that is assumed at coupon level, and since we use those allowable for the complete design, you certify the structure as if it contains major defects everywhere.
      The kind of defects, delaminations and damages you apply to your full-scale test articles.
      I do have experience with “old (almost) retired safe pair of hands”. It takes weeks to get them to understand the difference between composites and metals. The fact that you cannot test composite and metal parts in a structure simultaneously, since they are not critical in the same way.

      Flying through thunderstorms, hoping for a lightening strike? what does that teach you? How much power was in that strike? was that the biggest you have to expect.
      We’ve measured the lightening intensity and we can now do these test under controlled laboratory environments. (and yes, we do finally fly an a/c through a storm to show that the test correlate well to reality)

      Strikes by ramp vehicles? We impact coupons to find what energy levels do or do not produce obvious damage. Those energies that do not produce obvious damages are then accounted for in your certification allowable. And we apply the same damages to the full scale test article, to show that the structure including such defects at the critical locations can indeed support ultimate loads.

      The Boeing engineers (some of the best and brightest engineers in the world as all aerospace engineers are!), and all the subcontracted engineers spend almost a decade thinking about all the things that could go wrong with every little detail of the 787. There are things they didn’t think about. If you feel you have some grounded reason to doubt the safety of the 787 (or even ungrounded reasons), feel free to write them to the FAA. It’s been done before and that is the only way to improve the certification process – posting unfounded fears on a blog does not help the safety of aviation!

      “Do not wait for composite failures for implementing creative testing” But before the structure fails, you do not know the failure mode. We test coupons, panels sub-assemblies and full scale sections, and record and account for all the failure modes we see. The problem is not the known-unknowns. It’s those things that behave in a completely new way, a combination of environmental conditions that lead to a total something that effects the structure in a way that nobody foresaw, or could foresee (guessing is not foresight!).

      We have so far tested all we seriously thought needed testing. That includes known-unknows such as lighting strike, ramp-rash, longevity of composites, environmental conditions, BVID and any of the other points you mention. If you know of some unknowns we haven’t thought of, please let us know – but don’t go spouting doubts and fears all over the internet because that definitely does not improve the safety of aviation.

      • Thank you for your reply!
        Not totally convinced however, please have a look at reply 29 herebelow

      • “Certification is exactly what it used to be.”

        Going by information available Boeing pushed the interface to the FAA one layer further up by by assigning FAA trusted status autonomously in a premeditated move to weaken oversight.

  11. In Wash State and many others, State Patrol for perhaps 30 years or more has been using small aircraft to patrol main highways. And by not being directly overhead, they are often – usually not noticeable. even IF overhead, they are rarely heard above normal hiway noise.

    stationary cameras are all over the freeways and mountain passes

    So whats the big deal re drones ??

    the same people who are against drones in wash state are thrilled with the government using them armed and whacking baddies- but not waterboarding them !

    Wnen drones are outlawed – only outlaws will have drones !!

    • …Some qualified people had serious doubts on the filament winding technology.
      As we are not sure that certification jobs were appropriate, it might be wise to double check some of these certification jobs, for instance long term resistance of composites to lightning , tail strike, resistance to hits from ramp vehicles…..
      A second grounding of the 787 fleet would no doubt be fatal to the 787 SERIES and probably to BOEING…

      the sky is not falling !

      Composites have been flying for a decade or two or three – but in a lower peercentage

      Filiment winding per se is not quite what body is processed.

      Filiment winding has been used for 40 to 50 years with solid propellant rocket bodies, subject to higher pressures- major knocks ( recovery of shuttle stages ) , etc.

      B-2 have been flying for about 20 years- and I’m sure a few have been hit by lightning and flown thru turbulence and rain.

      Navy A-6 composite wings have been flying almost 20 years- possibly in bad weather ??

      • On the shuttle system the external tank is in its last incarnation mostly Al-Li. The booster are segmented (4) steel tubes.

        I would be surprised if the A-6 composite wing flew all that much. max 6 years ?

        • That was 25 years ago, Uwe. How is that relevent today?

          At the time the USN was really more interested in getting the General Dynamic A-12 and providing funding for it. The really was not interested in re-wing the A-6E, or the later proposed A-6F.

          The A-6E did decommission a few years after that (the EA-6B is still flying today).

      • It is relevant in that the references made by Don are not all that indicative of prior experience.
        It is not unusal that historic references seem to come from completely different and remote timelines 😉

      • Yes! composites have been flying for a long time, but in totally different configurations. A large diameter thin fuselage does not require the same physical properties as wing components….
        B2 usually fly much less than civilian frames, and rarely in storms…
        Yes filament winding has been used for ages, Composites d’Aquitaine now part of EADS was a pioneer in filament winding and has a very long experience of this.
        But again in totally different configurations, much smaller diameter, much thicker walls, highly regular parts (few singularities such as holes, doors, etc…) short life…..
        Just remember Jim ALBAUGH “immature technologies”…
        IKKEMAN mentions “I do have experience with “old (almost) retired safe pair of hands”. It takes weeks to get them to understand the difference between composites and metals.”
        I mentioned JIM and VINCE WELDON i doubt that they will require weeks to understand!

        My concern is about the LONG TERM ageing.
        Take LIGHTNING for instance.
        No doubt lots of tests were made, and it is certainly possible to make a perfectly valid laboratory simulation, but were they carried out ON THE SAME test article a number of times equivallent to a frame going across equator thuderstorms several times a week during 40 years?
        The dendrite phenomenon that we have met in the batteries could be met with the copper wires in composites, but in a much longer time scale, after having accumulated hundreds of strikes….
        known unknown
        We know quite well how aluminum ages, its fatigue resistance.
        The known unknown is composite ageing
        All what we know is that resilience is very poor, and that damages are only visible through NDT which is for the moment awfully slow.
        Remember that it is easy to see a defect in aluminum skin, and to replace a panel.
        Much less so for a filament winded composite body
        Just read again:http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11849.pdf

      • @flying frog,

        yes, we do know well how aluminum ages – though even that can throw us a problem every now and then (380 ribs). But we certainly did not know about aluminum aging before we started using it.
        The only way to get that sort of knowledge is by trial. Make the plane and start using it, just like Boeing did.

        Of course Boeing is monitoring the 787. Of course they are keeping an eye on composite ageing. That knowledge may be teh most valuable thing on the 787. So their next all-composite a/c can benefit from that proprietary knowledge while Airbus is stuck without.

        I’ve heard it said that it takes ~10000 hours of experience to become an expert. Doesn’t much matter how smart you are – maybe mr. Albaugh already has that experience, I don’t know – but that is the time it takes no matter what. If you want someone old to look at composites, why not try Burt Rutan?

        My message is don’t go around throwing out fears without asking a few questions first. The average reader of this blog I think has enough knowledge of the aerospace engineering process to understand things are not as bad as you fear, but that is not true everywhere.

  12. Uwe :
    On the shuttle system the external tank is in its last incarnation mostly Al-Li. The booster are segmented (4) steel tubes.
    I would be surprised if the A-6 composite wing flew all that much. max 6 years ?

    1) Filiment winding of ” fiberglass ” has been used on solid rockets since at least 1960’s- such as Minuteman Missiles upper stages
    2) Boosters on shuttle were solid rockets with Filiment wound cases – main tank was liquid fueled- later boosters used ‘ steel ”
    3) A-6 composite wings were being produced by Boeing in the late 80’s- early 90’s and in fleet use by mid 90’s

      • Geeze- the rest of the story-

        A much more highly specialized derivative of the Intruder was the EA-6B Prowler, a “stretched” airframe with two additional systems operators, and more comprehensive systems for the electronic warfare and SEAD roles. An derivative of AN/APQ-156, AN/APS-130 was installed as the main radar for EA-6B. The navigational radar was upgraded to AN/APS-133 from the AN/APN-153 on EA-6A. In total, 170 were produced. The EA-6B took on the duties of the U.S. Air Force EF-111 Raven when the DoD decided to let the U.S. Navy handle all electronic warfare missions. The Prowler remains in service as of 2012, but is being replaced by the EA-18G Growler in the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Marine Corps does not intend to acquire the EA-18G and will continue to operate the EA-6B for the near future, acquiring some U.S. Navy EA-6Bs as they are replaced by the EA-18G.

        and if you check closely- the problem was with fasteners being too short and some early Boeing screw-ups

        All of which has little to do with current

        BTW- the initial batch of composite wings were made in the same facility and about the same time as the B-2 wing panels made by Boeing. But Boeing, in its infinite wisdom elected to NOT pay attention to what the B-2 people were trying to tell the A-6 types. One problem had to do with security at then time- but the main problem was Hubris !

        How do I know this – I wuz there !!

        Also on minuteman project early on as in first flight !

  13. “has proved to be a lefty-wacko who is very vulnerable”. I thought political comments were not welcome here? I now understand better the author’s holy motto “no public intervention in aerospace companies”.

    • Obviously you are not familiar with the phrase “he who pays the piper, calls the tune”.

  14. kc135topboom :
    That was 25 years ago, Uwe. How is that relevent today?

    When Jim McNerney says that the 777X is going to have a “4th generation CFRP wing”, you can assume that he had the A-6 wing as the first or second generation in mind. Boeing learnt a lot about fastening of CFRP skins and the introduction of discrete loads, e.g. from plyons – the hard way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 777X wing fold would be based on the A-6 design, just electrified.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t know jack about it. Oh, wait… you don’t.

    • The 777 wing fold issue/concept was designed and prototyped using an early 3d printer in plastic in 1992-93 on the 777 program. Fora variety of reasons which I forget, it was dropped at that time.

  15. Uwe :
    As long as a trigger mechanism for battery death is not known you can’t let the 787 fly in revenue service as you can not make valid prediction on the maximum probability for battery death.

    On February 7, Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times published one of the best articles since the beginning of the crisis. Here are a few key excerpts regarding the statistics that were used to evaluate the safety of those batteries:

    – “Former safety-board member John Goglia said in an interview afterward the briefing that the statistical standard for safety of the 787 batteries had been set too low by the FAA — and “Boeing didn’t even meet the reduced standard.”

    – “Hersman said Boeing had studied the possibility of such a single-cell short circuit and its effects, in tests during the certification process.”

    – “Boeing concluded that these tests “showed no evidence of cell-to-cell propagation or fire in the battery,” she said.”

    – “However, in the fire on the Japan Airlines jet at Boston’s Logan airport, that’s exactly what happened.”

    – “In another certification test, Hersman said, Boeing studied the possibility that a failure in a single cell would result in smoke emission from the battery and estimated this would happen “less than once in every 10 million flight hours.”

    – “The 787 fleet has accumulated less than 100,000 flight hours,” she said.”

    – “Yet there have now been two battery events resulting in smoke less than two weeks apart on two different aircraft.”

    – “Goglia said the standard FAA safety requirement to cover the failure of any system critical to flight is that it must not occur more than once in a billion flight hours — which means such a failure is not expected to occur in the life of the fleet.”

    – “So the 787 battery-safety requirement that assumed a failure once every 10 million flight hours — 100 times more frequently — is already a low bar by FAA standards, he said.”

    In order to place the above excerpts in their original context I encourage you to read the entire article @ http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2020307773_ntsb787xml.html

  16. airtommy :
    But if they demontrate with an in flight induced batteryfire, that the fire is savely contained and fumes vented out? – What’s then?

    Fires are not expected on board aircraft. They are not tolerated, contained or not. Any probability of a fire is not normally accepted by the FAA. What we have seen recently is a serious deviation from that principal.

    There has been a breach of trust between the FAA and the flying public. That’s why the FAA is investigating itself today. And if it does not do it properly the investigation will be carried out by Congress.

    But the most neutral, and also the most competent, organization eligible to carry out such an assessment is the NTSB. That’s why I eagerly await the results of their enquiry.

    • So in my understanding a simple “containment” of the Battery is not a sufficent condition to lift the ban. They must show that it is statistically extremly unlikely, that the battery catches fire. And therefor they hav to know exactly the root case of the fire at Logan Airport. – I think Boeing is cheating itself.

      • Extremely unlikely or “extremely improbable” means one chance in a billion flight hours. That means it should not occur over the expected life of the aircraft.

        The FAA initially chose the more lenient “extremely remote” statistics of one in 10 million flight hours. But in real life it actually happened twice in less than 100,000 flight hours.

        The FAA will probably have to adopt the higher threshold required by the minimum operational performance standards (MOPS) developed by RTCA Special Committee 211 (SC-211).

        See: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_02_04_2013_p22-543292.xml

  17. SomeoneInToulouse :
    If they’re talking about lifting the ban within a matter of weeks, but they don’t seem to have identified a new source of the issue, then rapid manufacturing of new battery boxes (based on the existing cells and systems) is the only plausible way out.

    The FAA cannot lift the ban before the NTSB has identified the origin of the fire. The NTSB and Congress are not going to let the FAA and Boeing get away with any possibility of an onboard fire, even it it can be contained. We are beyond that now.

  18. “There are some changes to the systems that I know they are going to introduce, but I can’t disclose too much of it because I have been given information on a confidential basis,” Walsh, whose IAG includes British Airways and Iberia, said in Dublin yesterday. “They will have to do some redesign of the battery system and I would expect it to take a couple of months, but I don’t have any detailed information to understand when they will address that.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-09/boeing-787-battery-system-revamp-may-take-months-iag-ceo-says.html

  19. ikkeman :
    Of course Boeing is monitoring the 787. Of course they are keeping an eye on composite ageing. That knowledge may be teh most valuable thing on the 787. So their next all-composite a/c can benefit from that proprietary knowledge while Airbus is stuck without.

    I don’t think Airbus will have a problem with that “loss”.
    Modern Aircraft design does no longer work that way. ( And the FAA should have denied Boeing access to customers and their passengers as beta testers. )
    You gain fundamental and foundational experience out of band and when that experience has been gained you introduce these new materials and techniques to a new design.

    Compare Boeing to a firefighter fighting a fire in his underwear.
    He may be there first but he will get his a*s burned off and be less effective ( or even only add to the damage ) than the later but “well dressed” firefighter.

  20. Apropos:
    Whoever got he idea that changing “longer service life, low maintainance” items in quick succession was nothing more noteworthy than replacing worn seatcovers ?

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