Refusing to fly 787: This is a stunning survey by the website Travel Insider: 32% of frequent fliers will refuse to fly the 787 even after it is fixed for the first year or two and another third would prefer to avoid the 787. The numbers are huge. We knew there would be some who refused to fly the plane–the same thing happened to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 after it was grounded in 1979–but the numbers are stunning.
We also recognize that we’re still at the height of the press coverage of the still-grounded aircraft. Once it returns to service, it will be interesting to see results if the survey were re-run.
There was no doubt Boeing received a black eye over the grounding. It now appears both eyes are blackened.
FAA 787 AD was wrong: The FAA should have pulled the 787 type certificate, argues a former member of the National Transportation Board.
KC-46A Costs: The Blog by Javier (Irastorza Mediavilla) has a detailed analysis of the contract price performance so far of the Boeing KC-46A. although the blog is mostly about his personal activities, Javier works for Airbus Military on the A400M program. (Note: he does not speak for nor represent Airbus through his blog). This might make some of his aerospace analysis suspect in the minds of some, but we have found his commentaries and analysis to be well researched and thought out. And he has a good sense of humor.
FAA reliance on OEMs: Reuters has a detailed piece about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on OEMs (and specifically Boeing) in aircraft development, all triggered of course by the 787 issues. We wrote about this relationship shortly after the now-infamous joint press conference by the FAA and Boeing in which the FAA, Boeing and the Department of Transportation said the 787 was safe.
Re-certifying the battery fix: We keep getting told whatever Boeing does to fix the battery issue will require re-certification of the battery and/or system–that it will be more than simply complying with the Airworthiness Directive. This, of course, would add time to getting the 787 back into revenue service. Does anyone have some insight on this?
“Of all time:” Airbus Tweeted last Friday (referring to its website): The A320 (soon to be made in Mobile) is undisputed best selling aircraft product line of all time.” (Emphasis added.)
We don’t think so. “Of all time”? “Aircraft product line”? 737 All Series 10,501. A320 family: 9,142. DC-3/C-47/Others under license: 16,079.
We know what Airbus was trying to say: It’s A320 family vs the equivalent technology Boeing 737NG and 737 MAX, for which through January sold 7,369. But the claim, as worded, just isn’t so.
Furthermore, the A320 first entered service in 1988 and the 737NG in 1994. A true comparison needs to knock six years of sales off the A320.
To quote the controversy of a recent Washington (DC) tempest in a teapot, “[We] know [Airbus] may not believe this, but as a friend, [we] think [Airbus] will regret staking out that claim.”
I’m really not surprised by the 32% figure. I reckon this will be even higher if people are made aware Boeing are not fixing, unaware of, the root cause.
I really like the 787. It’s a beautiful airplane, but Boeing have seemingly done everything in their power to tarnish its reputation.
Its worser, another 35% will avoid the 787, with 14% paying to avoid it.
Question is how may people voted on the poll. My guess is about 100
My main question still remains unanswered up to now…
How can Boeing/FAA test/certify the propsed fix (containment) when they don’t understand the cause?
And until that question is answered – the 787 should be avoided.
I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, or unfairly harsh on Boeing for wanting an answer to this very important question. Do you?
Although I agree that the AD issued in this case stretches quite a bit what an AD is normally about, I think it is difficult to pull a certificate without knowledge of the incidents’ details. Given the current Standards of FAA certification, the AD fix approval tests might be harder than the usual certification tests. 🙂
But the DC-10 had its certificate pulled before the last incident was fully understood.
A good job too, because investigators found many other DC-10’s with damaged Pylons ready to break following the Chicago crash as well as the serious design flaw – the hydraulic systems lack of plugs to prevent total fluid loss.
“cascading consequences of Cert. revocation.”
Nobody wants to open that tin of worms on the 787.
Probably another reason why the AD instrument was used.
“If everything goes well, junior will enter into service by the beginning of August (I cannot guarantee that there won’t be delays…). Engineering and Programme Management (I) have done their job, now it’s up to Industrial and Delivery Centre (Luca) to complete the project (we swear that Procurement was not involved!).
We accept suggestions for the name, both female and male. Even more, we’re even thinking of setting up a contest; but please suggest a name only if you think it can top “Javier”.
If it’s a boy:
Roger, as in Roger Beteille.
“In 1967, at the time of the creation of Airbus Industrie, he was appointed A300 Chief Engineer at Sud Aviation where he oversaw the certification of the A300, the world’s first twin-engined widebody aircraft.”
If it’s a girl:
Adrienne, as in Adrienne Bolland.
“In 1921, Adrienne Bolland, a French woman aged twenty-six, flew solo across the Andes in a borrowed Caudron G3, an aircraft with a maximum altitude of only 12,000 feet, so she had to find a corridor through the highest peaks in order to survive. The only reason she had a plane at all was that she had personally approached the manufacturer, Rene Caudron, and demonstrated at his request her ability to loop the loop.”
Thanks for the suggestions! 🙂
Can you imagine if Adrienne would come to Airbus and ask if she could borrow an A380? No problem ma’am, but you must first demonstrate that you can loop one. That would for sure make Tex Johnston turn in his grave!
As for the name Javier, it easily tops Roger; no contest. But for the man himself? I am not sure… 😉
Javier, did you make up your mind for your kid yet? Is it going to be Li-ion or Nicad?
You have to consider that it might take up to twenty years to have your kid certified. Depending on ETOPS (Educational Training On Papa Spending) qualifications: High School for shorter distances and PHD for long legs. 🙂
If it’s a boy you might want to consider Li-ion. But if it’s a girl you might as well go for the Nicad. 😉
The A320 first entered service in 1988 and the 737NG in 1994. A true comparison needs to knock six years of sales off the A320.
The A320 first entered service in 1988 and the 737 in 1968. A true comparison needs to knock twenty years of sales off the 737.
It’s not at all clear what Airbus’s claim is. Most ordered (all A320 family versus all 737 family) or fastest selling (the A320NEO over two years). The A320 may be the best-selling aircraft product line of all time, excluding the DC3, but definitely not undisputed
Do I need to say that I disagree with BOTH?
Interesting blog about the KC-46. It mentions US Senator John McCain’s “concerns” over the $600M cost overrun the tax payer might by on the hook for. McCain has a long history of criticizing USAF programs, but fuly support of USN programs, or joint USAF/USN programs. McCain praises the JSF F-35 program because of the USN and USMC versions, and the fact some of the first F-35As will be based in Arizona (after Florida).
The difference in cost overruns between the F-35 and the KC-46 are as different as night and day. The F-35 program is 12 years old, and still not operational, with costs overruns in the tens of Billions, or more. The KC-46 program is 2 years old and there is debate over if there is a cost overrun or not. In any case, Boeing is on the hook for 40% of overruns up to the ceiling price, and 100% of the overruns after that.
McCain is disingenous in his criticism of the KC-46, but not the F-35.
Thanks for the comment. Indeed the F-35 program is in a much worse situation, just a look at the GAO review of selected weapon programs is sufficient. With the post I just wanted to share the final graph which summarizes FPIF contracts (and which I haven’t seen anywhere else).
The final graph is certainly enlightening, thank you for that.
It predicts a massive loss to Boeing but as you mention, the current contract is for EMD and the first 4 a/c only. What do you want to bet that loss is added to the next 175 airframes?
I’ll pay you Boeings final loss on the 767 tanker line if you’ll pay me their final profit?
Actually, the current KC-46A contract is for more than just the 4 SDD airplanes. It is for design, developement, and research of the entire KC-46 program, the first two blocks of airplanes as LRIP, long lead items for blocks 3-5, flight testing and initial receiver qualification, and FAA Certification costs. The first 4 airplanes will be built in two blocks of 2 tankers each with the first airplane delivered for flight testing in 2015, the second by 2016, and the last two by 2017. Of course Boeing can accelerate delivery of any of these new tankers, at Boeing’s cost, which is what I think they plan to do, since long lead items like the first 12 engines (8 for the tankers and 4 spares), and other items and spares have been ordered. If that is true, that would account for some of the current estimated costs overruns. The first of the new Booms has already been built (I understand there will be 5 of them), or very nearly completed, and will be in ground testing soon. One of the other Booms will be fitted to a KC-135 or KC-10 for initial flight testing.
The can of worms is already opened. It was opened after the first battery incident in Boston – but before the second battery incident a week later in Japan – when the FAA, DOT and Boeing jointly announced a review of the Dreamliner certification process.
So there were three possibilities for the FAA to review the 787 airworthiness:
1- Initiate a review the certification process (which it did).
2- Issue an emergency AD (which it did).
3- Pull the aircraft’s type certificate (which it did not do).
A comedy in three acts:
Act I – DOT will not approve a return to service until it is 1000% sure the aircraft is safe.
Act II – FAA will not approve a return to service until the operators can demonstrate that the battery is safe.
Act III – Boeing has a fix without a cause.
A tragicomedy that belongs more to Kafka than Shakespeare.
“A Little Fable” ? quite fitting imho.
Revoking the Cert is doing a “Hard Thing”.
The 1- thing is a morphable “Soft Things”. You can still change its scope, meaning and outcome.
The thing that really scares me is that the travelling public may not be made fully aware of what Boeing’s proposed fix entails.
A fix that isn’t a fix at all!
I think those in the know should make more effort in trying to make the public aware that the proposed fix isn’t fixing anything at all, but aiming to keep the plane safe long enough for it to land in one piece.
I don’t like it one bit and I’m (@matjamca) regularly tweeting Q’s to Boeing under the hash tag #787Updates – the tag Boeing is using to try and convince the public it’s solution is a real answer!
Alas, Boeing hasn’t answered or responded to a single tweet and only their tweets are being retweeted left right and centre. Kel surprise
The ultimate customer- passengers usually determine the success or failure of a car, scooter, P.C or airplane model or even airplane company.
even when later fixed and providing good service and usage as in the Navy p-3, it was the public which essentially doomed the Electra. Granted the advent of jet engines with reasonable reliability and fuel consumption also whacked that series, it is noteable that slightly smaller turboprops are still viable in short range – thin markets.
Boeing PR and apparent lack of coherent response IMO is on the verge of whacking the 787 program in a big way- as long as BA pushes a known firestarter as the only solution.
Granted a switch to Ni_CAD or something other than Li-xxx is not trivial- but the weight savings game is now history.
I suspect the coming shareholders meeting in late april will be VERY well attended- and no doubt a few calls from the floor for explanations and why and whose head(s) should roll.
Its past time for BA to play the open kimono card and put out some factual info on just what they are proposing, and what Plan B is.
I seriously doubt the 787 program will survive as long as there is a LI-XXX battery aboard.
BA should wake up and smell the burning LithiuM !!
Without knowing the details, if the battery cells could better release heat, this would be a fix for an obvious deficiency of the current design. Each battery generates heat, especially such powerful ones. Always a risk if so tightly packed.
I do agree that A320 production should be counted as behind the 737, by most reasonable criteria.
But the DC-3/C-47 is a whole different question. Military aircraft had far greater production and the numbers are not really comparable to civilian airliners. Or should we count the 30-40K units of the Il-2 and Bf-109? But in any case the Cessna 172 beats them all with over 43K units built …
What you are describing is an effect, not a cause. You still need to eliminate the triggering mechanism. But the root cause (triggering mechanism) has not been identified yet.
The vast majority of the traveling public will travel in whatever plane turns up at the gate without fear or favour!
Did the problems of the 737 rudder issues deter travelers? Not so!
I still believe the smoking gun as far as discrimination is concerned is likely to be the ALPA.
That is of course assuming Boeing are allowed to continue with what I believe to be an ill conceived solution.
“best selling aircraft product line of all time”
Sales per year would be the appropriate metric here ?
There is enough disingenious “prior art” around to not make this into an issue imho.
On the re-certification issue, the recent fires actively demonstrated that the batteries were not compliant with the special and specific conditions imposed on Boeing for Lithium Ion. For example on containment, prevention of runaway and ensuring an average of less than one serious incident during the lifetime of the 787 fleet. It looks likely Boeing will not be able to demonstrate compliance with several of the special conditions post the fix.
I think Boeing does need to get the 787 flying again soon and with a high degree of precaution. But I don’t think the FAA should just say, never mind about those special conditions – they were just nice to haves. Especially in the light of two fires having actually broken out on board.
No…it is not. BTW, the DC-3 was not a runaway success for new builds for the airlines, only selling a few hundred of them. But the military forces bought over 12,000 C-47s.
Why is this important, anyway?
Why is this important you ask?
Because a lot of people, Boeing partisans or not, believe that the 737 is the most successful aircraft of all times and that it beats the A320 hands down.
But the reality is that the A320 will eventually (sooner than later) surpass the 737 in overall sales, even if the 737 entered service twenty years earlier. Just do the math.
It’s important for anyone claiming supremacy. It’s the “mine is bigger than yours” mentality.
Even if the A320 does surpass the 737 one day, the fact remains that the 737 has been in production for more than 45 years now. This is quite a feat in itself.
While I agree, the B-737 may eventually be surpassed by orders, whether it is the A-320, or some other airplane is really not that important. This “mine is bigger than yours” attitude is what caused all of the childest antics by both OEMs over the last few years.
Heating is an effect of normal battery operations, I thought. The triggering mechanism is the chemistry when charging and discharging, Changing the cell packing could a fix against overheating or inhomogenous heating. I suspect it won’t be enough, but it is a valuable fix.
A valuable fix for heating issues would suggest the 787’s batteries were running hot from Day 1.
The fact that 100 + batteries had to be replaced over an extremely short period of time says a lot.
Absolutely. There is far more to this than initially meets the eye. I wonder if we’ll ever know the full truth?
What I had in mind with “triggering mechanism” is for example fluctuations in the aircraft electrical system. In other words a “root cause” of the problem. If the latter lies outside the battery the threat still remains.
Any Li-ion battery design is highly unstable when compared to more conventional technologies. But some are worst than others.
Boeing tried to introduce Li-ion at a time when the technology was not mature. By the time Airbus delved into Li-ion considerable progress had already been made. But it remains risky under the best circumstances because of the inherent instability of Li-ion.
A design challenge, I think, as you need both to contain the heat and dissipate it. Looser packing sounds like a good idea to me, but I don’t know anything about battery design, obviously.
To remove twenty years to the 737 would be ludicrous. To remove six years to the A320 would be equally ludicrous. The 737 entered service in 1968 shortly after it received its type certificate. The 737 still flies with that original type certificate and it is based on this that Boeing wants to grandfather the MAX.
When comparing the Embraer E-Jet to the Bombardier CRJ, which date should we take? The NextGen I suppose? In the case of the DC-3 should we take the C47 or the DC-3? When comparing the A380 to the 747, should we start with the 747-400? Or maybe the 747-8?
When I look at a 777-200, 777-200ER, 777-200LR, 777 Freighter, 777-300 or 777ER it’s all the same aircraft to me: the Boeing 777, which entered service in 1995.
What we need here is consistency, and the only way to achieve that is by using a unique reference point.
I think that it is ridiculous and totally unacceptable that a type certificate can be grandfathered for 50 years, by the time the MAX is certified. FAA or EASA should refuse to allow this. Set a red line for grandfathering at 40 years, safety standard have improved a lot over 40 years.
From a theoretical perspective you are right. But based on real life data the 737 still holds one of the best safety record in history. You can’t argue with a track record like this.
Because of its age the 737 might not be the most comfortable narrowbody to fly on – that distinction goes to the A320 – and soon to the CSeries – but it’s still among the safest.
The 787 is only one year old. But it can’t fly because it’s too dangerous.
Would the newer certification requirements have saved forex some of the passengers killed in the TK 737 Crash ? ( @ Amsterdam )
It’s too late to wake up. The fumes have already done irreparable damage to its brain.
Hmmmm- so fumes destroy a vacuum ? Of course !! They reduce it from that of an outer space perfect vacuum ( spaced out ) to a mere -1 psig, just enough to suck out a few more $$.
“Reuters has a detailed piece about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on OEMs (and specifically Boeing) in aircraft development.”
I am impressed by the level of reporting from Reuters since the beginning of the crisis. Many newspapers and magazines, including Aviation Week, use their newswire services to report on the progress of the Dreamliner.
– “Overseeing a self-policing program executed by the manufacturers themselves through more than 3,000 of their employees assigned to review safety on behalf of the FAA.”
– “These so-called designees had existed for decades, but the FAA had vetted and controlled them. Under the new system, companies chose and managed them.”
– “This is an occupation with a built-in conflict of interest,” said Gordon Mandell, a retired FAA certification engineer”.
– “With Boeing doing about 95 percent of its own inspections, adds Mary Schiavo, former Department of Transportation inspector general, “it’s kind of do-it-yourself”.”
– “We need to understand what tests were done and who was certifying those tests, and again how they were verified – not just by Boeing, but by the regulator as well,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said.”
– “Does the FAA have the right people with the right expertise to make sure the FAA is in a position to critically second-guess?”
Personally I doubt it very much.
– “Perhaps their biggest defense is that there have been no fatal crashes of scheduled commercial flights in the United States for four years.”
The above statement raises a key question: As Boeing and the FAA become overconfident?
– “The FAA’s inability to expand its budget in line with an increasingly large, complex and global aviation industry played a major role in the 2005 decision to expand the delegation system.”
The FAA cannot do miracles. It needs better support in its mission from the government.
– “By shifting our inspection focus from reviewing test results to overseeing the designation program, we will be able to more efficiently use our resources while extending our oversight coverage, thereby increasing safety,” the FAA said.”
I don’t see how overseeing the designation program instead of reviewing test results can increase safety. That’s pure BS (Bureaucracy Spin).
– “As of 2010 there were about 1,000 FAA engineers and inspectors devoted to design review and inspection, compared with 3,655 designees working for companies on the FAA’s behalf, according to government data.”
Guess who has the balance of power?
– “Regulators relied heavily on Boeing to do most of the work on what the FAA acknowledged from the start would be a potentially dangerous technology.”
It doesn’t get more serious than this.
– “Special conditions do not include specific tests, so Boeing itself proposed them to the FAA.”
It doesn’t get less serious than that.
– “Published in 2008 and adopted by the FAA three years later, the standard known as RTCA DO-311 gave precise instructions for tests. The worst-case-scenario test required turning off all failsafe electronics, short-circuiting the battery and watching for flames for three hours.”
– “Boeing did not run those tests.”
– The FAA acknowledged the batteries were potentially flammable in the special conditions approved. Said former Inspector General Schiavo, “They knew they had problems. They just said ‘OK’.”
Do you see what I mean?
If you don’t, check the original:
32% of frequent flyers are not 32% of the passengers. The fact that frequent flyers are often business passenger may be damaging to some airlines. But before taking these results too serious, let’s check the survey:
“99.7% of readers fly at least once a year, 90% fly four or more times a year, and half fly ten times or more. Unsurprisingly, 63% of readers are elite level frequent flier members as well.”
So, the people that read that magazine are indeed very important to airlines. You have to scroll down quite a lot to find this information (comment to a question by a reader):
“To answer the two fair questions, 580 responses.
95% of my readers didn’t reply. All we know is that 32% of the readers who did reply will refuse to fly the 787. Are the readers who replied a fair sample of the readership as a whole? Probably not – clearly they have stronger opinions than average, because they took the time and trouble (admittedly very little time and almost no trouble) to send in a response.”
What does that mean: 32% of the people that replied won’t fly the B787. 95% didn’t take the
time to reply. That doesn’t mean that the 95% are happy with the state of the B787, but I would assume that many of them are less determined to avoid it. The “Travel Insider” is no aviation-specific newspage. I guess Scott would have an easier job with his Mystery Photos.
Regarding A320: who cares?
Re: Refusing to fly 787
This is the kind of publicity Boeing has been trying to avoid at all means. Travel Insider better have there numbers covered. Phone calls are being made at high level.
It 100% contradicts the 9 year media campaign trying to make passengers flock around the Dreamliner.
Airlines hate it even more.
After this battery affair and all w’ve seen during the last 5 years, the 787 has had its fair share of trouble and w’ll see it succeed from now on.
Nope. The Boeing 787 having a development, manufacturing and introduction period like this, makes the likelihood of further trouble down the line higher. Far to many isolated incidents to deny a pattern. Almost unfair..
Personnally I find that the cabin layout of the in service 787 is “standard” the same level as 777 / A330 … and not up to the A380 level ! 9 abreast in Eco kills the dream (but might be a killer CASM wise !)
More Wow effect in virgin’s A330 or fiji’s !
It is obvious that the FAA was trying to offer Boeing an “easy” out in getting the 787 back in service. The question is if that is still an option with all that has come out in the press over the last month or so? Part of what needs to be kept in mind is that most people do not bother to read all of these articles to the degree that we all do. Most people, if they are even aware of it, know about a problem with a battery on one type of plane and that a fix is being worked on. Most of these people will not be interested in the details of said fix once the aircraft is back in service.
It is extremely obvious that Boeing is banking on this and is hoping to convince the FAA into allowing their fix to be used. How much recertification is involved if this is only to satisfy an AD? How does one lift an emergency AD for a design fix if the AD is aimed at the airlines (essentially only one in the USA)?
Now the Billion Dollar question? Since the Japanese authorities are the first ones to have grounded the 787, are they going to play “ball” with Boeing and the FAA? Have Boeing even been in contact with JAL, ANA and the Japanese Aviation Authorities, assuming they are allowed to be, to ask their opinion of this proposed “fix”?
By the way, the fix to me, sounds, at best, like a workaround solution to me.
Most people here are pretty down on the chances of Boeing getting the 787 back in service in the near future, and with still a good reputation for both company and aircraft. Boeing seems to know how to get things like this, despite long odds, done to their satisfaction.
Perhaps that is another strength they have lost, but I somehow doubt this.
Instead of being a game changer, the 787 is a fame changer. This airplane is destroying Boeing reputation and the nightmare is not over. Really sad.
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Today’s aircraft cabin need to be interchangable. That is, business class in aircraft A needs to be comparable to business class in aircraft B. Otherwise airlines cannot run a consistent product strategy and are unhappy. In economy, you can always switch to one seat more or less abreast. But in business and first, you are kind of fixed to a 6-abreast respectively 4-abreast layout.
Airlines will fill the seats no matter how popular or not the plane is. The real question is how much will they have to discount the seats by? Instead of getting 10% more for the first few years operators now have to expect 10% less. A big blow to the economics of a new type. I guess we will see 9 wide on nearly all 787s in the future as operators maximise passenger numbers, and that might make pax see any 787 services as LCC, no matter who is the operator. From my point of view 9 wide 787s is a boon for A330 operators, as it makes the A330 look like the ¨Dreamliner,¨rather than the 787