787 battery certification flight plan filed for this morning

Update, 1:30pm PT: The flight test is complete. Boeing issued this statement:

Boeing (NYSE:BA) completed a 787 certification demonstration flight today on line number 86, a Boeing-owned production airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines. Today’s flight marks the final certification test for the new battery system, completing the testing required by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Today’s flight departed from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. at 10:39 a.m. Pacific with a crew of 11 onboard, including two representatives from the FAA. The airplane flew for 1 hours and 49 minutes, landing back at Paine Field at 12:28 p.m. Pacific.

The crew reported that the certification demonstration plan was straightforward and the flight was uneventful. The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions.

Boeing will now gather and analyze the data and submit the required materials to the FAA. We expect to deliver all of the materials to the FAA in the coming days. Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations.

Original Post:

Boeing scheduled is critical certification flight test for the 787 today.

Boeing’s statement:

Boeing has filed a flight plan to conduct the 787 battery certification demonstration flight today on Line number 86, a Boeing-owned production airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines.

Today’s demonstration flight is the final certification test for the new battery system. The purpose of the test is to demonstrate that the new system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions.

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 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.

We plan to provide updates via Twitter (@BoeingAirplanes). A statement will be distributed to the media via e-mail after the flight is completed.

Separately, Boeing had this to say about advance preparations to return the airplane to service:

We have formed a series of AOG teams to help our customers implement the improvements once certified. One of the teams has already deployed but will not perform battery work until the solutions are certified. Details about the AOG teams are considered proprietary.

Our Aircraft-on-Ground Services team (AOG team) is prepared and equipped to support the implementation of approved modifications to the in-service fleet of 787s. The content of their work packages is driven by our customers’ requests. No work is being done on the battery systems at this time as we are still working through the certification process.  AOG teams provide the unique capability for an on-site, comprehensive and integrated modification to airplanes. As always, the safety of those who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

Reuters quotes Ray LaHood, US Secretary of Transportation (his department oversees the FAA), as saying Boeing has a good solution to the battery issues.

37 Comments on “787 battery certification flight plan filed for this morning

  1. A demonstration flight is just that, a demonstration. The testing has already been done 😉

    • ….. 787 certification demonstration flight …..

      lets see..

      thats in line with ” 1000 percent ”

      NO fire NO flame

      NO thermal runaway

      Only happen with overcharging

      NO evidence of Overcharging in fleet

      odds are 1 in 100 million that . . .

  2. Its hard to believe a 2 hour flight will serve to ” certify” the battery problem.

    Another note- this is the first time in any news source that the AOG crew has been mentioned

    For days, the news sources have said BA is sending ” engineers” to sites to ” install” battery fixes, etc.

    While engineers can and do often accompany AOG crews, it is the IAM types who actually do the hands on work. And they are usually the top rated mechanics from the assembly lines

    It was not until BA got its act together in the days of the 707 that the brass realized what airlines really needed and wanted. Douglas at the time was famous for its AOG equivalent , BA was like the typical car dealer. You drive it off the lot, its yours so if it needs repair ( with few exceptions) – U fix it !

    Looked at thru the $$ prism, AOG is expensive- very expensive- but the enhancement or maintenance of reputation is a many times payback, more so than all the PR games.

    • The required tests were all done before the demo flight for the FAA, mostly on ground, some in flight.

    • Don,

      If they do the boom-box/vent-tube survival test at high altitude by deliberately overcharging at least one of the batteries (or doing whatever it takes it to cause a complete failure like the one in Boston), that will go a helpful way toward renewing confidence in the safety issue.

      Maybe more than one such safety tests are needed, but if Boeing is to survive a terrible cash-flow problem, let’s hope such tests are successful. The cash flow needs to be restored so possibly Boeing may eventually come up with a much better future ECN.

      Bob Paglee, Moorestown, NJ


    • I would find it extremely surprising if the FAA would ever require Boeing to induce a battery failure in flight. A test like this would pose an necessary risk and can more than adequately be performed on the ground.

      There are many safety related tests that no one would ever consider performing in the air. The fan blade containment test and bird/hail strike tests, just to name a few.

  3. As the airlines are demanding compensation it may be the best economics to send AOG teams that can get the planes back in service ASAP after cert.

    • of course- just run the 100 percent permanent and final fix test ten times !!

      for the bcrat math challenged 10 times 100 percen t = 1000 percent

      Issue solved !! :PPP

  4. The Wall Street Journal:

    Boeing is packaging and preparing to send airlines battery-replacement kits for grounded 787 jets, even though final regulatory approvals for the fixes are still pending, according to people familiar with the details.

    The moves highlight Boeing’s growing optimism that the Federal Aviation Administration—which hasn’t objected to assembly of upgraded batteries and related parts—is poised to give overall approval within a few weeks to begin installation of the redesigned systems.

    The timetable remains fluid and Boeing’s 787 recovery efforts have met different hurdles. Now, FAA chief Michael Huerta and his boss, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, face some potentially stiff political headwinds as they ponder allowing 787 Dreamliners to return to service. The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing for the middle of the month, during which the FAA is expected to face questions about certification of the lithium-ion batteries.

    About a week later, the National Transportation Safety Board is slated to hold a two-day public session likely to focus partly on challenging the adequacy of the technical procedures and FAA oversight when the agency initially gave the go-ahead for the 787’s cutting-edge battery system nearly six years ago.

    Depending on how fast FAA leaders are prepared to move, industry officials and outside safety experts said the safety board’s efforts could complicate and potentially delay a final agency sign-off for returning 787s to service.

    Aviation authorities in Japan and other countries also could take longer to give the official green light for their carriers. Japanese air-accident investigators, for example, have signaled they may conduct some more of their own battery tests rather than rely on certain U.S.-generated data.

    The company is betting that having the modifications kits in place and being able to move faster to return the fleet to flying passengers outweighs the risk of having to make any last-minute FAA-mandated changes to the design, according to a top executive of a 787 customer.


  5. ooks like they reached 43,000 feet and 597 kts a while ago about 11.30 pdst

    S/B 597 MPH- read the wrong column


    • I agree with you TB. Boeing is understandably putting pressure on the FAA to accelerate the process. And they are making sure everything will be ready when they get the green light. On the other hand the NTSB might be putting a damper on everything. Like Scott said to PSBJ “it would be very impolitic for the FAA to return the 787 to certified status at least before they know what the NTSB has to say.”

    • At first I thought the FAA would wait, but now I’m not so sure. The FAA and NTSB have a long history of working very closely together, and I would be surprised if the FAA wasn’t already intimately familiar with the NTSB’s views on the incident. Realistically, what new info or analysis is going to be added between now and two weeks from now? More and more, I’m thinking the public hearings will be just that, public. A bit of a dog-and-pony show in front of the cameras for the reassurance of the public. I seriously doubt that any new earth-shattering revelations will be brought to light.

      • FAA has a history of not acting on NTSB findings.

        Averaging over the indicators visible I currently expect the FAA nod before the NTSB end of month report.
        And definitely before we will see any report on FAA/Boeing certification interaction.

      • True enough, but it is not out of ignorance. I’m certain the FAA is up to date on the very latest NTSB findings and opinions.

  6. Impossible to meet the 1000% safe target, of course. Let’s just forget that poorly chosen rhetorical element. The steely tupperware fix will be better than nothing, when certified to contain/vent a fire/thermal runaway. Enough to allow return to service without critically compromising safety, probably. That’s for the symptoms. Does the improved battery eliminate the (unknown) root cause ? Only time will tell. Hopefully leaving extra margin to develop & certify a Plan B just in case. It seems obvious Boeing is working hard to improve the reliability of the whole electrical system (testing of modified panels…), and that’s the most sensible thing to do, knowing that any single & unrelated minor incident could raise new doubts about the “more electrical” concept itself. From there, and considering the complexity of the task, the only part of the story I’m not buying is the word “Definitive”.

  7. The containment should be ok, but there should be a demand to change the composition of the cells to a chemistry far more stable, so if there will be one more cell needed, in the end wouldn´t a little more weight be a good trade off to the unknown unknown we live with now? There are very stable Li chemistries with better specs then NiCad. This would benefit all of aviation IMO. If one chemistry was certified for aviation standard world wide.

    How long would it take the industry to develop these more stable batteries?

    • More benign Lithium chemistries are available ( and were in the past ). Battery technology is a moving target. Li-* aircraft batteries should and will be derived from a well established COTS line of cells ( not much different from Ni-Cd at its time of introduction.)

  8. Just a open question: before dropping the Li-battery, wasn’t it Airbus plan as well to introduce a “boom box”, made of titanium?

    • No, they are not, at least not any more than usual from Boeing. In reality, Boeing is always pushing the regulators and the regulators are always pushing back. This has been the way of things for a long long time.

      As for this supposed FAA silence, what should they say? The FAA already gave their approval of the battery re-certification plan, so it’s not like they are in the dark about the tests Boeing conducted. The testing had to run its course and so far, it seems, no showstoppers. If there was a problem, we might have heard something. Now the FAA is in data review mode, and we shouldn’t hear from them until they are finished.

      We are hearing from the NTSB next week at the Li-ion technology forum, and the week after at the public hearing. They do not regulate, they only investigate incidents and make recommendations based on their findings.

    • I’m confused. Is it Boeing that makes the share go up by saying everything is great or the investors that are looking to invest money and decide what share to buy? I would think that if it was up to the Boeing company, then shares would much more valuable. Would it not Airbus or Embraer for that matter like to bump their share prices up? Who is blocking investors from buying share from other airplane manufacturers, they must be so blind.

  9. Don Shuper:
    “Your question seems to indicate you are unfamiliar with how stock markets work.”

    Wow Don, I guess I’m now as confused if not more than John is. So Boeing says they are buying back shares (and then does not) and its shares goes up like hot balloon. I suppose there are some true to that but not as it is insinuated here. And even if that was as effective as it is said with that comment, why isn’t every other company doing the same? I would bet whatever I have that American airnline (or any other company with publicly traded shares) would love for their stock to go up in price (I guess they should just anounce a shares buyback program). This would more likely provide them with the ability to borrow money with more favorable terms. But what do I know?
    This is my first post here, and before I posted I try to understand more of about the poster because as Scott has posted, there are more rethoric than actual discusions here.
    What I found is that that for the most part, we seem to be discussing something with our hearts instead of our minds. If we think really what we are saying, (I know, i’m just as guilty)then we can probably come up with something more unbiased. Companies have their problems and really bad managers. They also have really good ones that try their hardest to solve things and make the company better. Why not give them a chance for whatever design they come up to solve a problem before trashing them and calling it just “PR” stuff?

    Sorry Scott for running my mouth longer than I should had.

  10. Mike Bohnet :
    [the FAA] are not, [under any more pressure] than usual from Boeing. In reality, Boeing is always pushing the regulators and the regulators are always pushing back. This has been the way of things for a long long time.

    In practice, I think, the regulator is dependent on the manufacturer to get its own job done. The problem with a badly managed project like the 787 is that the regulator is not getting what it needs from the manufacturer, while the manufacturer is passing on its own intense pressure, due to delays, onto the regulator. Something has to give.
    It is different for the 787, I think, because Boeing programs were always well managed in the past.

    • You have a conflict of interests there.

      In scope of certification Boeing provides as a loyal subdivision of the FAA.
      Moving the demarcation line hierarchically upwards would in theory indicate
      a justified extension of trust From the FAA towards Boeing in scope of their objective: a certified airworthy and save airplane.
      This is the “pravda” version of how interaction Boeing/FAA is expected to work.

      Expanding Mike Bohnet’s view would provide for a different image:
      Boeing and FAA facing off on certification issues and a moving demarkation line
      indicates loss or gain of territory ( here : decissive scope )

      The observable process would imho go for Mike’s interpretation.
      Boeing has gained territory against the FAA and their objective.

      This FAA loss reduced the quality/adequateness of the certification significantly.

      • I disagree there’s a conflict of interest. The FAA’s job is always to ensure planes are manufactured to a minimum (but demanding) safety standard. It’s never their job to award ratings to the planes or find reasons to reject planes. That hasn’t changed for the 787. A messy program makes their job more difficult.

        Having their planes certified by a respected regulator is absolutely in Boeing’s interest. That’s one reason why COMAC want their planes ultimately to be blessed by the FAA rather than relying on the current Chinese regime. The manufacturer may be conflicted between getting the plane to market sooner or being respected for going through the regulatory hoops. This is mainly a PR issue, though, that undoubtedly reflects their real frustration.

        Bottom line, Boeing, even more than the FAA, would prefer a well regulated program. But they are where they are.

  11. AINonline:

    Boeing 787 flight marks end of battery mod testing.

    The company planned to start gathering and analyzing the data over the weekend before submitting the required materials to the FAA “in the coming days.”

    Boeing expects the flight to mark the end of certification testing for the 787’s new battery system following more than a month of ground trials. Now, the timing of service entry depends solely on the speed with which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration completes its evaluation of the testing data.

    “Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations,” said Boeing in a statement.


  12. The Seattle Times:

    Boeing flew a two-hour test flight on a 787 Dreamliner Friday, completing the tests of its lithium ion battery solution. The FAA will now examine the test data and is expected to let the 787s return to passenger service.

    Federal regulators could approve the fix for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner batteries as early as midmonth.

    The FAA will examine the ground and flight-test data. Boeing wouldn’t have submitted the data unless the results had met the requirements set in advance by the FAA, so approval to allow the 787 to fly passengers again is all but certain.

    The agency is not expected to wait for National Transportation Safety Board hearings later in the month.

    “We expect to deliver all of the materials to the FAA in the coming days,” Boeing said in a statement. “Once we deliver the materials we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialogue with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations.”

    An FAA official, who asked not to be identified, said there will likely be “some back and forth” between the regulator and Boeing as FAA engineers go over the test data.

    However, even after FAA approval is granted, it may take a couple of months to get the fleet of 50 grounded Dreamliners back in service.

    Typically the Japanese regulator, like aviation regulators worldwide, will simply go with whatever decision is made by the FAA.

    Given the serious financial pressure on ANA in particular — it’s had 17 Dreamliners grounded for approaching three months — an industry source in Japan, who asked not to be identified, said the JCAB will likely quickly follow the FAA’s lead.


  13. From Ben Sandilands:

    “In a surprising omission, the mainstream western media is ignoring Japan’s determination to follow no-one when it comes to establishing the safety of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

    This story from AFP has appeared in brief in the English language media in Japan, Asia and the Middle East, but not, as yet, in the US, European or Australian media, as searched for earlier today.

    TOKYO: Japanese aviation authorities on Monday began two days of ground-based battery tests on a troubled 787 Dreamliner at an airport in western Japan, officials said.
    Four officials from the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) started checking the battery system of the All Nippon Airways airplane that has been grounded at Takamatsu airport for nearly three months.
    The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in January after instruments indicated there was smoke coming out of the battery. That incident was instrumental in the worldwide grounding of all Boeing Dreamliner jets.
    An official from the JTSB said a battery identical to the one that encountered problems had been put into the aircraft and was being examined.
    “We will decide on what to do next after we finish analysing the data,” the official said, adding that it was still unknown when the safety board will give the go ahead to resume flights.
    The test came after Boeing in the United States conducted a 787 Dreamliner test flight Friday to assess a proposed battery fix that it hopes will get the grounded jetliner back in the skies.

    However in the less questioning media, it is as though a line has been drawn under the problem, causes unknown, and the super fire box is so certain to be passed by the FAA that airlines, including United, are already scheduling a return to service by their 787 from late May.

    Japan’s safety authorities seem, however, to be made of tougher stuff.

    This isn’t to say for a moment that the 787 will not return to service soon. But to suggest, as Boeing has repeatedly, that ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ was, is all over, and that we can all move on as there is nothing more to see, is probably very wrong.”

    • While I really do appreciate Ben bringing this to our attention since the Japanese investigation has been inadequately covered, I think his article is an overreaction to the AFP story. The significance of this activity is dependent on what type of testing it is.

      It makes perfect sense that the JTSB is conducting testing to support its investigation into the ANA incident, just like the NTSB conducted extensive testing during the JAL incident investigation. There have been reports suggesting that the ANA 787 battery system had been miswired somehow. The JTSB could be investigating this aspect because it is one of the potential differences with the NTSB investigation. Or, it could be one of the myriad of tests required to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”. I seriously doubt they are doing any sort of testing on the old battery that involves inducing failure while on-board the aircraft, and in the off chance that they are, Boeing would be well informed.

      Concluding that the JTSB is somehow tougher than the NTSB because of the timing of the JTSB testing is a pretty big stretch. From what I can tell, the NTSB is holding their ground quite nicely. They’ve been very thorough and impartial with their investigation and have bristled at anyone suggesting a conclusion before they’re ready to make theirs.

      Ultimately, the FAA needs to sign off on the new battery system, and they have not done so yet. They may yet decide that more data is required, which would mean more testing. We will see. In the mean time, the airlines are making their plans based on the info they have available to them, at least some of which is not available to the public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *