Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, appeared today at the JP Morgan aerospace conference.
Here is a running synopsis:
Ray Conner (RC)
Joe Nadol (JN) of JP Morgan:
RC: It’s important to recognize that batteries are not used in flight. They are back-up to start the APU and for the systems. After events, put together 200 engineers. Have done 200,000 hours of analysis. Have come up with comprehensive solution and presented to FAA on Feb. 22 and last week to Japan.
JN: Any sense of the timeframe and cost?
RC: So much is dependent on where the FAA goes. This is the dictating thing to get off and running. Once we get that it will move fast to get the airplanes back in the air.
From a cost perspective, we’re continuing to produce at 5/mo and airplanes rolling out clean. All prep work being done so once get OK we can implement and deliver the airplanes.
JN: Airbus switched to nickel cadium batteries; Boeing used in the past. Why did you decide to stick with lithium-ion?
RC: Even with all the analysis, we didn’t see reason to switch back. It’s much faster for us to get back into the air with li-ion. As we worked with outside sources, we were more comfortable. Technology has moved a lot over the last several years. It’s not that Airbus is moving away from technology, it’s their having a clear path forward.
JN: How is rest of 787 production process?
RC: Some suppliers are already adjusting to the 7/mo rate break. Once you get the plane stabilized in terms of design, rates can move very quickly. Things could change if things go sideways with FAA, but we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.
We have the 787-9 moving through the production system, too. The -9 is a big change.
JN: What is demand across the product line now?
RC: Narrow bodies have held up very well. We have more demand in some years than our production can handle. We have done a very good job of managing skyline and the bridge into the MAX. The demand in passenger traffic has not slowed for single aisles, or for 777 and 787. 70% of US market to be replaced over next 20 years.
Europe will see growth from LCCs on single aisle and network carriers for wide-bodies.
JN: As you think about 2013 is there still a decent tail for the 737NG or is it slowing down a bit?
RC: Last year was a solid year and this year will be another good year, maybe not to level it was for MAX. The way we see it, MAX is hitting all targets for schedule and performance. NG the demand is taking us right through the bridge. We’ll be selling a little farther out so may slow a bit.
JN: Is there pricing pressure?
RC: I think margin will be OK [for 737NG]. Some initial launch deals for MAX can be a little more aggressive, but we’re seeing that become more stable.
JN: MAX–I thought pressure would be more on late NGs than on the MAX.
RC: We were a little late getting into the marketplace with MAX and there was pricing pressure on NGs. We were about a year late so we were more aggressive than we would have been had we not been late.
We’ll have final configuration for MAX the middle of this year.
JN: LEAP is a new engine and competitor engine has been vetted. LEAP is at an earlier stage. How would you gauge your comfort?
RC: LEAP is derived from A320neo but it is optimized for 737. We’ve done our audits with that engine. One of reasons we went down sole source scenario was that we optimized the engine for our airplane.
JN: 747-8–it’s a smaller part of the business now. Backlog is declining. Freight environment is tough. Your SEC filings raised concerns. What’s the latest in demand?
RC: It’s no secret cargo market has been tough the last couple of years. We are starting to see some signs it’s starting to pick up. Hopefully we’ll see more demand this year. If freight and cargo comes back, we’ll be in pretty good shape but [otherwise] have to watch month-to-month. With passenger version, interiors take more engineering so it is slower. Key thing will be cargo. [Needs to have slightly more than 12 months decision timeline to reduce production rate from two to one.] We have open slots in 2014.
RC on 777: We’ll be book-to-bill of one:one this year. Some people get concerned about A350 but we’re still getting orders for 777.
JN: You guys have been more in wait-and-see mode than many would have thought–787-10, 777X. Characterize the timing.
RC: On -10X, it’s pretty straight-forward airplane, just a stretch of the -9. We’ve been in the market, does 90% of the -9 markets, phenominal costs. Cleary having the fleet down now has slowed things. I hope to bring that forward soon.
777X: new engine, more seats, composite wings, both of these could take place once we get through battery issues. 777X, 787-10X is a killer-combo.
Working hard to get 777X business case where it needs to be.
JN: Give high-level assessment of challenges.
RC: Focus is on execution of rate breaks, how we work with supply chain to drive out costs. Taken same kind of approach into the development side. Potentially could have five development programs going on at any one time. We did five rate breaks last year. That was not without a lot of hard work. We’re going to have tougher rate breaks going forward.
JN: Update the tanker.
RC: Tanker is going well. Moving through preliminary design very well. USAF and we are pleased where we are at. We’ll have a very solid production line with FedEx planes coming through and tanker will integrate.
So 200 engineers couldn’t manage to get to the root cause in 200,000 hours. Do they really understand the design of their airplane?
200,000h distributed across 200 engineers is 1000h/per engineer. 100days @ 10h
so we know how Boeing will fix all that: A Time Machine 😉
My guess would be that the other information snippets are similary misstated.
For one I don’t believe the “no use” thing.
Let’s say “no use” is true. The batteries still self-ignited. Next rationale?
Broken records is Us:
Look for abuse in use,
follow Yuasa’s hint,
look at ambient temps in the storage location,
why where in one case both batteries damaged ( even if the second didn’t go yet. ),
same outcome. 200 engineers are 200 engineers.
either 200 work 1 shift or 66 work one shift of 3 per day each.
Anyway and to paraphrase the mythical man month “throwing manpower at a late project will delay it further” :
throwing more engineers at a problem will delay the solution.
Software can run 24/7 ?
it’s not just engineers thinking, they’re also trying stuff.
That explanation is about as disingenious as the 2.2million hours Li-Ion cell “experience” that Boeing brought up a couple of days ago.
I may be linguistically challenged but mentioning “200 engineers” and “have worked 200k hours” in one sentence
imho provides for limited scope of interpretation.
the text reads: “200 engineers. Have done 200,000 hours of analysis”
not, 200 engineers worked 200k hours in just a few weeks.
analysis is not only human thinking anymore, since we (engineers) invented computers
Then I could proudly boast to have worked near to a million hours on some problems. 40 hours to write the software and
999960 hours of number crunching on a large parallel system.
Every CPU counts.
Still about as disingenious a claim as possible.
Hmm, so Conner believes Boeing has got the solution nailed without seemingly knowing the root causes of the problem. Is that supposed to be reassuring?
Again with this root-cause.
Do you realise that not knowing the root cause is a base requirement in fatigue and damage tolerant design. For damage tolerance we are to assume an initial crack at the critical location. you cannot talk that crack away with logic or rationale – you can only reduce it with more precise inspection methods – but at some point you must assume a crack initiated, even if your fatigue analysis shows this is not at all likely.
Then you analyse the growth of that crack through time and determine at what point the structure can only support limit load – several inspections of that location (and all others it covers) must be planned before that point because an initial crack can be missed. we don’t know why, it just can.
So not knowing the root cause and still proving the structure safe to fly is a basic requirement from the regulations.
Same with engine blade off, inert gas in the fuel tank (even if there is no spark source in the tank), Decompression, jamming and other failure cases.
These are all examples of situations where you are not required to identify the root cause – just make sure the occurrence does not negatively impact flight safety. I’m sure poeple from other engineering disciplines can think of others.
“ours is not to wander why, ours is but to do and make sure nobody does die!”
If anything, the incidents showed that the 787 is damage and/or fault tolerant. the battaries failed without catastrophic results.
In the first issue, it only failed without catastrophic results because it was on the ground, with no passengers and the firefighters were just across the field! If it had been half way across the Pacific when it failed, it is a good chance you would not be able to make this statement, and the Japanese seemed to have agreed with my position by grounding the fleet.
You are trying to rationalise the battery situation by comparing it with other engineering principles but the whole point here is that Boeing failed to meet the Special Conditions as set out by the FAA and are quite lucky not to have their Type Certification for the 787 fully revoked.
In your examples you describe procedures for extremely remote issues. ( how many 747 flight hours for one potential wingbox explosion? )
Current number for battery events is higher than 1/22,500.
The chance to loose both batteries in one go exists.
( probably nearer to 1/22k hours than 1/500e6 hours )
If the battery is nonessential ( as you seem to suggest:
if contained loosing the battery is completely OK )
the best solution would be to leave it on the ground.
Why doesn’t Boeing go for that ;-?
@ aero ninja: What special conditions do you refer to???
It is my understanding Boeing was surprised by the short life and eventual failure rate of the batteries, they did not anticipate this. If any engineer stands up (who worked on the 787) and says he saw this coming all along, that engineer should be quartered and Boeing flogged for not fixing the issue earlier.
@Uwe: Good proposal, and I’m serious.
If the battery is only used to start up the APU – disconnect it and fly anywhere you like as long as it offers ground power. Problem solved, money getting earned and engineers get the time they need to solve the cause rather than resolve the issue.
Unexpectedly short battery service life (~6month, was a known issue from at least as far back as 2008. ( Boeing to change chemistry from Flightblogger )
If a part that conforms to spec has significantly reduced service life it is a give that you abuse the technology.
( i.e. you are very near to / over some hard limit or other.
be that temperature, under/over voltage, in/out over current,
combinations or some other limitation.)
Quality issues with the cells would have shown other symptoms imho.
The comparable cylindrical Saft Saft VL 41 M Li-Ion cells provide for 20years/3000SAE cycles useable lifespan.
Riiight – dont confuse us with facts and data and the long known firestarter or explosion issues with LI-xxx batteries, 100,000 hours of power point rangers combined with our excellent record of MDC ex employees has given us the confidence we need.
And besides which, the great public – customers dont really understand the situation- so oour PR people have also been working overtime !!
And if we now went to NI-cad or similar, we would further add to the weight of our x inch thick steel boxes with chrome plated headers and glass pak mufflers.
The ground crew ? Simple – we will post a .003 tall sign saying , if you can read this, you are too damm close to the exhaust system which depends on high speed airflow to sutiably extraxct
Thats why we have tied it into the regular cabin venting system, since there should always be a higher pressure in the cabin than outside and . . . . er …. ahh……
If his quoting 200,000 hours of work was going to make me relax he’s wrong.
200,000 hours and still no understanding what caused the issues. Jesus Christ!!!
Perhaps Ray dares not to be a heritic, so as to avoid being the Boeing center of attraction on Easter
in my experience it’s similar to the amount of hours required for a small vertical fin.
Except the vertical fin is finished after the 200,000 hours whereas Boeing only has a good grasp on how they want to contain the problem but are nowhere near to finding out what the problem is nor how to prevent it from occurring again in the future.
I can imagine the whole electrical system connected to the battery being more complex and having more parts than a little fin.
also, building a fin has been done before, which means many mistakes have already been made. The 787 system is new.
By one measure, with 67% of surveyed passengers showing strong or weak signs of “787 avoidance”, he needs to be WAY more reassuring.
RC: It’s important to recognize that batteries are not used in flight. They are back-up to start the APU and for the systems.
And yet, the ANA battery burst ‘in flight’ spraying the bay it is in with a shower of crap.
This statement tells me that the issue must lie outside of the batteries. Or else how could this battery have failed so spectacularly whilst in flight (not being used)?
Boeings fix for this, is to keep the batteries cooler and build a thick steel box around them. Go figure!
Conner crossed a line with that statement. It’s one thing to be an enthusiastic salesman on behalf of Boeing stock (the purpose of his talk today) and it’s another thing to be materially misleading. The battery is actively powered during flight even when no current is being drawn out of it. Since we have no idea what is causing them to catch fire, acting as if the batteries are inert in flight is at best, misinformed or misleading.
He didn’t say they wouldn’t be *charged* in flight…
I think he is trying to say the plane can carry on flying when its batteries catch fire, as it doesn’t draw on battery power in flight.
As long as the plane doesn’t disintegrate into a sticky mess first, of course.
No reason at all to adjust 787 delivery forecast, no reason at all……
Sure. Just pile ’em higher (and deeper) on the ramp.
It would be more effective to pile certain managers and executives on the ramp to keep them from interefering with the working grunts.
Adding 200 engine-ears means 100 managers and less than 100 engine-ears
Now matter how one slices it – 9 men cannot make a baby in one month !
and one man cannot build a 787 in a few weeks.
JN: Any sense of the timeframe and cost?
RC: So much is dependent on where the FAA goes. This is the dictating thing to get off and running. Once we get that it will move fast to get the airplanes back in the air.
IMO it is dependent where Boeing goes. The requirements are clear.
This is dangerous nonsense from Ray Conner about the batteries not being used in flight.
His statement is sorta true but highly (perhaps deliberately) misleading. In flight, the batteries are powered. They are being charged and or available if the generators go off-line. The battery functions as a back up power source after engine start. The APU battery needs to be available to start the APU if it is needed during flight…..to start the engines if they stop.
While you can say the batteries aren’t used in flight, they need to be available to provide critical backup power or to start the APU if needed.
The batteries are plugged into the electrical system and charging if not being used. Since we don’t know WHY the batteries are catching fire, it’s misleading to talk as if they are inert during flight. I’m REALLY surprised that he made this statement and that nobody has called him on it.
Did Safe Harbor language include: “Not meant to be a factual statement.” ?
The batteries are not used during flight – they do not contribute to continued safe flight or landing. Losing this battery after the apu is working does not directly affect the integral safety of the a/c (though any flames and/or heat or other effect may of course interfere with the structural integrity – hence the containment box)
No misleading, just a simple fact that doesn’t fit with some of the fear mongering on this site.
I think there is a distinct difference between “not being used” and “being physically disconnected from the electrical system”. Conner said the former, but the latter would be needed to be true for the statement to be useful in determining the chain of events.
If the battery is “not used”, but still hooked up to the electrical system (as in being charged e.g.) it is entirely possible that the battery had outside influence that started the chain of events.
And I would not call it fear mongering, I would say highly critical, which at this point is deserved, sort of.
If APU is running and starter battery fails, APU shuts down.
If starters battery fails, APU cannot be started.
Hardly immaterial to operations.
@mneja: I think the comment on not used was intended to reassure the public that the battery is not material to safe flight – it was IMHO not intended to suggest the failure could not be initiated during flight.
@longtime: nobody said it was immaterial to operations. with a failed battery you’ve got a stranded 787 (if no other was is available to start the engines, which there usually is). The battery is immaterial to continued safe flight. Though it’s failure may still impact safe flight, the battery is not needed for flight itself.
With a failed battery(-ies) and inability to start APU, does MEL say you still have ETOPS? Should you? How much (minutes ETOPS)?
More/better/Boeing-preferred solution is to throw finance and PR wonks at the problem until some of them stick to the wall.
PR to a degree requires that the target group is in a receptive/passive mindset.
The FAA will most certainly have lost its tranquility.
Will participants in the stock market see advantage in continued going with Boeing PR?
Look back a couple of years and look at how the mortgage market unraveled.
( Or how at some turning point the American press suddenly notices waterboarding and renditions )
Pingback: Ray Conner on pricing and Boeing discounts | The Blog by Javier
I see the irony going on in the comment thread today…
… let me deviate from it and focus on some other lines from Conner:
“RC: We were a little late getting into the marketplace with MAX and there was pricing pressure on NGs. We were about a year late so we were more aggressive than we would have been had we not been late.”
I had been trying to estimate average Boeing discounts in the previous years, and I already notice a hike in the average discount in 2012 of about 4-5% (which is abotu 10% of the value of the discount). I commented on that here: http://theblogbyjavier.com/2013/03/04/ray-conner-on-pricing-and-boeing-discounts/
We had Airbus’s word for that 😉
“Since 2009 I have noticed that the average discount has gone from ~38% (2009), 39% (2010), 41% (2011) to 45% (2012)!!”
Great observation Javier!
– “So much is dependent on where the FAA goes.”
For me, the most sensible comment of the entire interview.
– “We didn’t see reason to switch back [to Ni-Cd].”
– “It’s much faster for us to get back into the air with li-ion.”
To me, this indicates that Boeing has not excluded Ni-Cd, in any event.
– “The way we see it, MAX is hitting all targets for schedule and performance.”
Are there any other ways to see it?
– “We’ll have final configuration for MAX the middle of this year.”
– “LEAP is derived from A320neo but it is optimized for 737.”
Read “is adapted to the 737”.
– “One of the reasons we went down sole source scenario was that we optimized the engine for our airplane.”
Let me rephrase this: One of the reasons we went down sole source scenario was that the LEAP was the only engine we could optimize for our airplane.
– “Some people get concerned about A350 but we’re still getting orders for 777.”
In other words it’s starting to hurt.
– “Cleary having the fleet down now has slowed things. I hope to bring that forward soon [787-10X].”
That’s understandable. But it will have to be taken into account when the current crisis is over and the overall impact is evaluated.
– “Working hard to get 777X business case where it needs to be.”
Sounds like the Board is blocking it.
the LEAP-1B is indeed optimized as good as possible for the MAX. It has a smaller core then the -1A, a lower bypass ratio due to the smaller fan ect.
But PW also tried to get on board with the GTF and they must have done the same, as the PW1100G would have been to large in diameter and the PW1500G would not have been powerful enough. So Boeing had a choice between two engines that have/had been optimized for that airplane. It is just the question how much better they could have been if there would not have been a restriction in fan diameter.
But that is the issue. Without major structural changes, they had no choice but to go only with the LEAP engine based solely on the fan diameter restriction. Everybody knew this and to present it as anything else is, at best, disingenuous.
Agree with your analysis on pretty well everything escept for the following, “- “So much is dependent on where the FAA goes.”
For me, the most sensible comment of the entire interview.”
To me, that is the set up to put the pressure on the FAA to agree their “fix” for the problem. I can see it now, “We are all good to go but the FAA is holding us up!”
Wait for it!!
“So much is dependent on where the FAA goes.”
I took this statement for its objective and intrinsic value, not for what Conner meant it to be.
But I will slightly modify the statement in order to reflect exactly how I view the situation:
Everything is dependent on where the FAA goes.
Undoubtedly there has not been a ringing endorsement of Mr. Connor in this forum.
In his favour, the phrase working 40/7 becomes an interesting new “ism”!
Ray Conner is only repeating what he is told to say. He does not necessarily believe everything he says.
I recall when he appeared alongside Ray La Hood and Michael Huerta at the “Joint Announcement”. He looked so stressed out and embarrassed. Poor guy! I bet he was sent there more or less against his own will because his boss likes to delegate public appearances. Guess who was sent to Japan last week to make apologies that should only have come from the CEO himself. To be number two is never a comfortable position at Boeing. Ask Alan Mulally.
The Board is completely paralyzed at Boeing. They can’t launch the 777X nor can they fire McNerney. The two most urgent things to do after cleaning up the Dreamliner mess.
Has anybody else seen this article, “http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/uk-boeing-dreamliner-report-idUSLNE91R00G20130228”
The pertinent part comes from an article from the Wall Street Journal.
“GS Yuasa believes the battery fix should include a voltage regulator that could stop electricity from entering the battery, the Journal said, citing government and industry officials.
Boeing proposed its fix to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration FAA.L last Friday. The previous day, GS Yuasa told the FAA that its laboratory tests indicated a power surge outside the battery, or other external problem, started the failures on the two batteries, according to the newspaper.”
This story was filed 5 days ago and yet nobody seems to have found it significant or reavealing. The fact that Yuasa might be trying to cover their butts, which they definitely might be doing, should be irrelevant. Something like this should be looked at, and very darn closely at that!
The link to the original story, “http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323293704578330480004073900.html#”
Tryin the link again
Ok, WSJ article mentions that FAA is staying neutral on the Yuasa information and has apparently told Yuasa and Boeing to work it out amongst themselves. Nice way to take control of the situation boys!!
It also reports that some at FAA beleive it to be a face saving maneuver from Yuasa. Nice, objective way to look at things.
I wonder what such a voltage regulator as proposed by Yuasa would entail.
My analyisis: Boeing is going to get what it wants, and fairly soon at that. Maybe not as soon as they want, but sooner than I believe is appropriate.
Question: If Boeing do get this fix approved, what sort of frequency of in-flight fires are they advertising for their “super box”? 1 per year for every 50 aircraft in service? 1 per year for every 100 aircraft in service?
Al right, cell separation is also part of the solution, but they seem to be focusing on containment rather than prevention.
With 100 frames active and utilisation comparable to the A380 (~13h/day ) you
move into the range of one battery event every fortnight. ( going from 2/45,000h )
Cell separation will bring less chance for a chained reaction but will not
improve on inital (single cell) fault.
The Dreamliner has an obvious problem with battery abuse.
Yuasa’s intervention fits the picture much better than anything we hear from Boeing.
Where’s Pat Shanahan, the engineer that managed the program during the last 5 years?
Patrick Shanahan : Senior Vice President and General Manager, Airplane Programs, Commercial Airplanes ( since 2008 , current for dec. 2012 )
Well, a root cause analysis will disclose why an incident, failure or breakdown occurred in the first place and how future failures can be eliminated. I may be wrong, but AFAIK, no root cause on the 787 battery failures have been discovered. By running around announcing that you’ve “nailed” a fix — without knowing what was done wrong, or gone wrong — before undertaking an implementation of mitigating actions, may badly backfire on Boeing.
Here’s a good PowerPoint on Root Cause Analysis:
On page 6, one can see why finding major defects post EIS, is the most expensive outcome for an OEM and it explains why Boeing is desperate to get the 787 back into the air ASAP.
I think page 7 is actually rather more pertinent…
That’s for sure. 🙂
“On page 6, one can see why finding major defects post EIS, is the most expensive outcome for an OEM and it explains why Boeing is desperate to get the 787 back into the air ASAP.”
Pushing a bandaid solution will top that expensive outcome in no time. That delay is defined by return to service till first aggravated failure.
( broken record: Frederick Brooks : “The Mythical Man Month” has it all in one nicely bound book:
“Pushing a bandaid solution will top that expensive outcome in no time.”
As explained on page 7. 🙂
In a recent thread, dated February 27, I commented on this article. See post #38 in the following link:
Below is a “copy and paste” of my comment.
“Boeing and the Japanese firm that makes lithium-ion batteries for the 787 Dreamliner disagree about what should be included in a package of measures aimed at getting the airliner back in the air, the Wall Street Journal reported.”
“GS Yuasa believes the battery fix should include a voltage regulator that could stop electricity from entering the battery, the Journal said, citing government and industry officials.”
“GS Yuasa told the FAA that its laboratory tests indicated a power surge outside the battery, or other external problem, started the failures on the two batteries, according to the newspaper.”
I am not sure which WSJ’s article is referred to here, but the following link will give you access to the Reuters article from which the above excerpts come from:
Why isn’t Securaplane/Thales Li-ion battery charge monitoring/charging/conditioning system/logic/performance mentioned in the same context?
Indeed it is a continuum: subsystems within systems, as integral parts of an overall aircraft architecture.
Securaplanes charger if it follows their patent is kind of “superschlau”. Superficially very brilliant like “duh, obvious!”
but it is imho permeated by funny little black holes.
I deem “blind charging” the last ergs into a fickle battery as less than brilliant.
Compare to other similarly presented as “duh, obvious” design solutions on the Dreamliner.
The battery will not be the straw that breakes the camels back.
Ahh. I was on holiday last week and did not read the comments from back then.