We have just filed a flight plan to conduct a 787 functional check flight today on Line number 86, a Boeing-owned production airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines.
The flight plan (which is always subject to change) can be viewed via FlightAware, which can also be used to track the airplane’s route, location and progress throughout the flight, at this link: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BOE272
The flight is a normal Boeing production check flight intended to validate that all systems function as designed. During a functional check flight, crews cycle the landing gear and operate all the backup systems, in addition to performing electrical system checks from the flight profile. Across airplane programs, more than 600 functional check flights were completed in 2012.
Following the completion of the functional check flight, we will analyze the data from the flight and prepare for certification ground and flight demonstration in the coming days. The plan is to conduct one certification demonstration flight. That flight, which will take plan on Line 86, will demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during flight conditions.
The flight will take off and land at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The flight is currently scheduled to depart at approx. 11:00 am Pacific time, but is subject to change. The flight is expected to be approximately 2 hours in length.
For those media located in the Puget Sound area, Boeing will not be providing access to the airplane or our facilities before or after the flight. The Future of Flight has reserved its rooftop deck for use by media as a viewing location for photos and video of the airplane’s takeoff and landing.
We plan to provide updates and photos via Twitter (@BoeingAirplanes) and will send a brief media statement via e-mail after the flight is completed.
I agree, good luck.
Wish ’em good luck if the FAA lifts the grounding before the root cause is established.
I hope all goes well and they are flying again. There is such a large backlog of planes to be delivered and the grounded ones need to go back to revenue service. I wonder how long it will take for the completed frames to be modified?
Boeing on March 25 conducted a functional check flight of a 787 fitted with the revised lithium-ion battery system as a preliminary step toward a certification demonstration flight planned for the coming days.
The Boeing-owned aircraft, Line Number 86, destined for LOT Polish Airlines, made the relatively short flight around the Washington and Oregon coast test areas following a final series of pre-flight ground tests at Paine Field, Everett, on March 24. Boeing says the flight, which began at 12.11 p.m., was “a normal Boeing production check flight intended to validate that all systems function as designed.” During the roughly two-hour sortie, the crew checked the back-up systems and cycled the landing gear, as well as performed electrical systems checks.
At Boeing Field, close to Seattle, the company also is preparing 787 development test aircraft ZA005 for ground tests of the revised battery–particularly the new stainless steel enclosure and its associated venting system. There has been no notification about when specifically this might occur, although the company says it aims to complete both the certification flight test and associated ground test “in days.”
Separately, the NTSB said its upcoming forum, “Lithium-Ion Batteries in Transportation,” will be held April 11-12. The NTSB event, which was announced on March 7 when the safety board released its interim factual report on the Jan. 7 Japan Airlines Boeing 787 battery fire investigation, will focus on design, development and performance of the batteries, as well as related regulatory and safety aspects of the technology.
Oliver McGee, an aerospace and mechanical engineer who was a deputy assistant secretary of transportation under President Bill Clinton, said he was skeptical that federal regulators would allow the 787 to resume flights as early as May 1.
“Take whatever date is agreed upon and add three to six months to it,” McGee told Reuters. “I don’t think that you’re going to see any type of quick fix or compromising on the FAA side.”
McGee said the trauma of the Columbia and Challenger shuttle disasters would make federal officials reluctant to sign off on the new battery system until they were absolutely sure it would work as Boeing promised.
Both the Challenger and Columbia disasters were not a result of the engineers, they were both NASA management failures.
Idem: Both the Japan Airlines and ANA battery disasters were not a result of the engineers, they were both Boeing management failures.
Well, with all due respect to the late Richard Feynman, IMO the main cause for the Challenger launch malfunction and the Columbia re-entry disintegration was due to some bad design decisions “by committee” made back in 1970/1971. The design went from being a totally reusable two-stage human-rated space shuttle system to a partially reusable system where the orbiter would be mounted to the side of a debris-shedding external tank along with field-joint compromised solid rocket motors. Also, the shuttle system had to be sized to cater to ridiculous USAF payload and cross-range requirements for due south polar orbit VAFB launches.
Well a string of engineers made mistakes and others checked, authorized, approved, qualified and certified them based on bad tests, also approved by engineers. Everybody always seems to avoid blaming engineers for some reason, but always management, marketing, Chicago, (preferably foreign) subcontractors, MBA types, McD.. I would expect Boeing engineering to take responsibility, boldly step forwards, openly admit errors and accept the consequences. Dreaming of course.. 😉
The Boeing engineers are extremely competent. But management has been hard at work to destroy this extraordinary company since the mid nineties. There has been a lost of expertise via outsourcing of key engineering capabilities and massive layoffs at all levels.
In regards to the Dreamliner problems specifically, it has more to do with bad decisions taken by the management and an enormous amount of risk was built into the programme from the beginning.
1- Unrealistic scheduling.
2- Extensive outsourcing.
3- Simultaneous introduction of extremely bold new technologies (all-carbon, all-electric, lithium-ion batteries, etc.).
4- Selection of the most volatile variant of Li-ion (lithium-cobalt).
5- Extremely aggressive marketing campaign that sold airframes at a lost.
6- Confrontational attitude with the unions.
there you go again.
Bad launch decisions more than bad design decisions. The seal blow-by problem was not adequately addressed and management felt enormous pressure from the customer (government) to meet an unrealistic schedule.
Many similarities can be drawn between NASA and Boeing. Between the Space Shuttle and the Dreamliner.
1- A lot of expertise was lost when the Apollo programme was shut down in 1972.
2- The choices that were made for the selection of the technology were extremely risky.
3- There was an overconfidence at NASA (arrogance maybe?).
4- The pricing of the Space Shuttle was “misunderestimated”, like George W. would put it.
5- The scheduling was totally disconnected from reality.
6- A post-Apollo culture developed into “normalization of deviance”.
The parallel with Boeing in regards to No 6 is more subtile. But it can be found in the certification process.
Well, this is getting off-topic, but the Space Shuttle was plagued by too many fundamental design flaws which combined to make it an inherently unsafe system for flying humans into orbit. Of course, I share your views of managerial failures, but IMO that’s not the main cause of why 14 people where lost during two space flights.
First, the Space Shuttle should have had, at the minimum, a F-111/B-1A style ejectable crew cabin, with the pressure vessel made of titanium and not wafer-thin aluminium panels. Preferably, the cabin should have had its own separate thermal protection system. The Challenger crew would in all likelihood have survived if they had been sitting in an ejectable pod. Vertical launched rockets have a high failure rate and NASA should have planned from the outset that in order to escape a launch calamity, a crew should have the option of vehicle escape at the pad and during all flight phases. If the Challenger and the Columbia accidents had occurred with the vehicles operating in a Buran-type unmanned mode, the public at large would barely have noticed what had happened.
2nd, in the original reusable two-stage design, the orbiter would have been more than twice the size of the one that actually flew, and it would have used metallic shingles as thermal protection. The severity of the re-entry heating depends on the ballistic coefficient (i.e. the mass per unit surface area of a re-entry vehicle), because the kinetic energy which must be dissipated is proportional to the mass. If the mass remains the same, the amount of heating due to frictional energy per unit of surface area is reduced by half if the total exposed surface area is doubled. Hence the larger orbiter integrated with propellant tanks and a significantly lighter main propulsion system would have had a significantly lower ballistic coefficient than the orbiter that was actually built. Consequently, it could have used a much more robust metallic Thermal Protection System than the silica based ceramic TPS which was designed to tolerate higher re-entry heating rates on the smaller orbiter.
3rd, the original totally reusable design had a much smaller payload capability. The decision that the shuttle should replace all then existing launch vehicles drove the design requirements towards a large payload bay and a payload capability of 65,000 pounds; instead of the 15,000 pounds payload capability of the original Max Faget design. The Space Shuttle was originally designed to service a Saturn-V launched space station, and not designed to build a space station on its own. The 65,000 lbs payload capable orbiter had to be powered by very high pressure, staged combustion cycle main engines rated at 104 percent of maximum thrust (with 109 percent reserved for abort emergency situations). In comparison, a turbofan engine is typically rated at a maximum allowable thrust level of only some 90 percent of the maximum thrust level reached during engine certification testing. A safer space shuttle design would have incorporated longer-lived engines operated not at maximum thrust levels.
You enumerate the conceptual errors made that turned shuttle away from a cheap space access Bus to an expensive project with limited use.
But those errors did not kill.
Tone deaf management did the actual kill.
They only saw their own skin in the game and beat down any
dissent from lower levels.
( and that actually makes the connection to the 787 with fortunately no one killed yet.)
The historical failure rate of expendable launch vehicles is between 2 and 14 failures per 100 launches and about 1.48 for the Space Shuttle – or 14815 failures per million launches. 😉
In comparison, the global fatal accident rate in commercial aviation is approximately four accidents per million departures.
The fundamental mistake of the Shuttle was the naive belief that the Shuttle could be made as safe as an airliner. Hence, no crew escape system was integrated into the design thus setting the stage for an inevitable failure and loss of life — you know with rockets being rockets….
Category-1 failure modes for the Shuttle included single SRB failure to ignite, multiple SSME failures at lift-off etc. Even if the shuttle program had been run by a skilled and responsible management pre-Challenger, NASA was most certainly going to lose a vehicle at one point, and with a guaranteed loss of life.
Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Vostok, Soyuz and Chenzhou — all these spacecraft used and is still using tested launch escape systems. The X-15 concept also had an equivalent launch bailout system, although from altitude. Yet the shuttle was developed with no proven launch escape system, something which saved the day for the Soyuz-10 crew.
When Columbia was lost, the shuttle had been flying for more than 20 years with a foam debris shedding external tank. The insulating foam was there to prevent ice from forming when the tank was fully loaded with cryogenic propellants. On a fully reusable two-stage shuttle system, the cryogenic insulator would have been placed between an external metallic aeroshell and the load-bearing propellant tanks, hence shedding of foam could obviously not occur during launch on such a system. The debris shedding external tank was an accident waiting to happen, bad management or not.
The second flight after Challenger barely made it back to the ground intact.
Although the damage to Atlantis’ TPS was caused by debris flying off from the right SRB, it nevertheless demonstrated would could happen when an orbiter would be hit at transonic speeds by a shower of relatively light insulating materials.
“The plan is to conduct one certification demonstration flight. That flight, which will take plan on Line 86, will demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during flight conditions.”
Does anyone have any idea just what exactly Boeing hopes to demonstrate? It took more than a few flights for Boeing’s customers to find out about the problems with the battery system. How does Boeing propose to demonstrate that all is good with one flight?
Are they going to simulate an event? Force an event? Or are they just going to fly a typical 10 hour mission and after it is all over report that all is well and the system has been proven to function properly?
Last weeks, Boeing told everybody that he’s going to make two test flights to certify the batteries solution ?
Is a «normal Boeing production check flight » a typical batterie test flight ?
Is a «normal Boeing production check flight » supposed to make the proof that the solution is the right one ?
In my opinion « a normal Boeing production check flight » as Boeing says, is nothing more than a normal check flight ; Nothing more and very few to see with the batteries issues !
Let’s be honest – this wasn’t really a “test flight” – this was the bare minimum to show that the modifications haven’t affected normal operation and flight dynamics. A bit of a face-saving excuse to lift the AD, if you ask me. Hard to see what they could actually have tested apart from “no unexpected aerodynamic effects or leaks, okay – put her down and get the paperwork signed.”
FT even has an article on it. If nothing else, it shows that Boeing PR works well. The article still claims the plane is lighter than comparable planes thanks to composite use:
FT said this:
“…the 787, which is far lighter than traditional aircraft thanks to its use of carbon composite materials in the body and other innovative technologies.”
That is accurate and perfectly true. There is not one iota of PR in that sentence. The key words are “lighter than traditional aircraft”.” This is undeniable.
What is more questionable is the following statement:
“Boeing chose lithium-ion batteries for the 787 – the first commercial aircraft to use the type – because they offer the same power as traditional nickel-cadmium batteries for far less weight.”
Mike Sinnett himself said this was not the main reason. Boeing chose Li-ion because it could pack a bigger punch and recharge more quickly. Apparently weight considerations were secondary. That aspect is now compromised anyway.
I don’t see it . Compare the weight to the A330. It’s identical per passenger for the design version, which means for the current version the 787 weighs more.
“An inherently unsafe system for flying humans…” That sounds painfully familiar. 😉
Not only that. They thought it would have the same turn-around time as an airliner! They were also planning to launch one Shuttle a week! It makes you wonder how they were able to sell that to NASA. Boeing must have hired the same guys to plan for the Dreamliner. 😉
It would have saved them a lot of problems. The external insulation was a “cheap” solution that never worked satisfactorily because they were unable to find a material that would stick permanently to the external surface of the tank. They tried various techniques but all failed, and they kept loosing insulating material just like they kept loosing tiles on the belly.
It seems the NASA magic of the sixties was not carried over to the next decade(s).
The problem was the immense size of the External Tank (ET). It provided all the liquid propellant required from lift-off to orbital insertion. Adding a hard layer of protection over the foam would have taken away a substantial fraction of the payload capability of the Shuttle. On the two-stage fully reusable system staging would have occurred around Mach 10, while on the partially reusable Shuttle the SRBs separated at Mach 4.5. The propellant tanks on the orbiter in the two-stage system would therefore been much less voluminous than the expendable ET. An ET made with a hard outer layer of protection was therefore out of the question, hence the foam was the only practical solution when the choice was made to forego developing a fully reusable shuttle. However, side-mounting the orbiter to an expendable foam-covered ET was an extremely hazardous design choice.
Mounting two 60 lbs Lithium-Cobalt batteries on board a non-expandable aircraft was an extremely hazardous design choice.