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Squawks & HeadlinesFAA approves Boeing's 787 battery solution

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FAA approves Boeing's 787 battery solution

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Boeing's proposal to fix battery issues on the 787 Dreamliner, allowing the airframer to conduct limited test flights on two aircraft even as a safety investigation continues. Boeing would be required to conduct "extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance" with safety regulations, says the FAA today, almost two months after it grounded the 787 fleet on 16 January. (www.flightglobal.com) More...

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jcisuclones
Jonathan Chicken 11
I just want to see it fly! Too much of a beautiful aircraft to be grounded!
Pileits
Pileits 8
YES, get them flying again. Way to nice an airplane to be stuck on the ground.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 7
Financial markets are probably not surprised at this news. BA stock is up almost 15% since its mid Feb low. Way outpacing the record Dow numbers of late (of which BA is a component).
Be nice to see the gorgeous birds airborne again!
Av8nut
Michael Fuquay 7
Good. Now let's get 'em in the air, where they belong!
JKMSEM
John Middaugh 3
I don't see where containment is going to solve anything! Safety of flight and passengers has to be upper-most. I experienced a battery explosion in the wing-well of a U-21 in Vietnam, and fortunately, we were below 10K feet and close to an airfield. The wing began to peel like a banana, not a very good feeling! Boeing is the industry leader and will only retain its position by demonstrating concern for the flying public and not its bottom-line.
Magrioteli
Anders Magrioteli 3
Great! It's an amazing airplane that doesn't deserve to be grounded. It is so beautiful to watch and I so want to be on one 787. However American Airlines starts to fly them in Nov. 2014. I hoped for sooner. I guess I have to be satisfied with the 777 in April.
But one day...
Craigpv2d
Craig Hoaglund 3
Just so you know, Ni-Cad batts can undergo thermal runaway too. I had it happen while I was in the Marine Corps and was working in the battery locker on the USS Belleau Wood.(LHA-3) The battery continued to get hotter and melt even after I had removed it from the charger. SOP was to immerse the battery in a trashcan filled with water. I thought it was too hot for that and tossed it over the side of the ship, where it immediately exploded. Needless to say the sonar guys on our escorts were not happy.
westfly
kyle estep 2
I am betting it was the saltwater that caused the boom. Had you put it in fresh water, there shouldn't have been an explosive reaction.
Craigpv2d
Craig Hoaglund 1
Kyle, I was thinking that the extreme temperature difference and the 75' drop from the hangar deck level to the water had more to do with it. I've seen aircraft recovered from seawater with their Ni-Cad batts still intact. Anyway, my point was that other aircraft batts can exhibit thermal runaway. Now if Boeing had used Lithium Iron Phosphate batts instead of a Lithium Cobalt Oxide design, they probably wouldn't have had this problem.
G5Jimmy
G5Jimmy 1
SOP's are for dorks!
honzanl
honza nl 1
unsafe planes do deserve to be grounded, no matter how amazing they are ! If you want to be on a burning plane over the ocean I wish you luck....
ps: at flightglobal they quote Boeing today: " Root cause of 787 battery issues may never be found ". Very reassuring don't you think?
What worries me still is how this plane got 330 min. ETOPS before the 1st commercial flight ?! For me: I prefer a proven safe plane over an amazing burning one.
jmelong
Jack Long 2
I'm with you. What continues to amaze me is how the entire "Test" Fleet underwent how many hours of test with NO reported Battery issues. Now the 787 is Certified and in Commercial Service and all these problems come to light. I'm a Boeing Fan, but I would not feel comfortable on an overwater 787 flight.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 2
Leaves an open seat for me then.
chalet
chalet 1
200% agree
JimmyZ777
Loyd Champion 2
So my question to all is the following: Is this a Band-Aid? Or has the root cause of the problem been located and corrected? Stronger cases, better fire suppression all sound like a Band-Aid to me.
brilondon
Brian Wilson 2
Well lets hope to see the 787 in the air again sooner rather than later.
kettler
karl kettler 2
They must determine the cause. Without that any "fix" is speculative and should not be approved.If not then Boeing must be required to purge the existing system and design and certify a completly new and different system.
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 2
The last thing I would long for is ever being inside this 'beauty' and going down and crash!
deloss1
Joe Deloss 2
I have been concerned about the use of the latest battery types and their uses in the electric automobile industry. The fact that most of these cars have the batteries located under the floor area. Now that the aviation industry is having this problem of fires from batteries, I am definitly concerned.
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
as it was to.d to me, "If you are going to take the Titannic, you may as well go first class"
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
What qualifies you to make such a demand, Karl?
Lemj6
Jessie Lemoine 1
Welcome aboard.
Airway61
Jose Lauzardo 1
I'm glad,that a solution has been found!
akovia
akovia 1
Over 31 years in the left seat, I never heard the term "airframer" before this article. Could it mean that journalism has failed as well as the battery system?
vanstaalduinenj
Jon Van Staalduinen 1
This just getting the ball rolling.....sounds like going to be awhile before they cleared for passenger service
wmkay0
will kay 1
these planes are still flying abroad? saw one of these gorgeous birds in frankfurt...
luisordonezcano
luisordonezcano 1
Gran noticia, que vuelva a volar el dreamliner!
davegray725
David Gray 1
Just discovered this site, love it!!!!
209flyboy
209flyboy 1
Why do these batteries need to be tested in flight? What advantage is that? Can't they simulate the same charging currents, power draw, electrical pressures and heat analysis on the ground where stress testing can be harder?
As a pilot and flying 300+ people, I have a hard time justifying flying the 787 until they completely resolve the problems with the batteries. As you know, fire or an explosion in an airborne aircraft is no joke and can be fatal.
chalet
chalet 1
Whoever entered this squak goofed on the headline big time. The FlightGlobal news headline reads "FAA approves Boeing's 787 battery certification plan" There is a huge difference.
Subaru11
Daniel Carroll 1
Just drove by CHS Boeing and there are at least four 787s sitting by the fence. I wonder who is holding the paper on those planes. $$$$$$$$$
vanstaalduinenj
Jon Van Staalduinen 1
I was referring to the cargo door issues that caused depressurization
209flyboy
209flyboy 1
I think it's Boeing a this point!
pmbell64
Pat Bell 1
It's a common term inside the aviation manufacturing industry...I work for an engine manufacturer and hear the term airframer in reference to Boeing and Airbus all the time.
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
According to this article, it seems to be a moniker for companies that build planes using suppliers for major components (wings for example, or L-Ion batteries getting heat for giving off heat)

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/supply-chain-weakness-threatens-airframer-ramp-up-report-367854/

Am reminded of
" a word means exactly what i say it means" (Humpty-Dumpty in Thru the Looking Glass)
FritzSteiner
Fritz Steiner 1
Same here, Ken -- no left seat time, of course, because I'm a submariner by trade. An "airframer" might be the job description of a Boeing employee who assembles airframe components on the assembly line but it surely isn't what one of the biggest airplane manufacturers in the world would choose to call itself.
joespiper
Joseph Gawlikowski 1
Put the Ni-Cads back in, stop fixing something that is not broke. WE had this problem some 30 years ago with lithium, chemistry is chemistry and nothing has changed!
vanstaalduinenj
Jon Van Staalduinen 1
Gotta say I am a little uneasy as well. Took a few rounds (and sadly hundreds of lives) for Douglas to get the DC10 right
Lemj6
Jessie Lemoine 1
It's "growing pains" guys. They will work it out and there will be a fantastic aircraft to fly.
billhum1
William Humleker 1
Battery "troubles" are nothing new aboard airliners of every size, description, and age ... it's just that our press needed something to talk about, something that GRABS ATTENTION. If this was REALLY a huge deal, Wolf Blitzer and his attendant jackals would be SCREAMING ABOUT IT and slitting their wrists outside the factory every 15 minutes. They're not.
billlehto
bill lehto 4
The DC-10 wasn't a Douglas prolem. American overlooked directives from Douglas as how to remove engines. As a result a truly good plane went the way of the DoDo bird.
KauaiMary
Mary Hoppe 0
Having all 3 hydraulic systems come together in one place in the Sioux City crash did not help. That was a Douglas problem.
kettler
karl kettler 0
The use of shims on the DC-10 were indeed a Douglas design flaw aggravated by American using a forklift to attach the pylon improperly. The resultant pylon/wing gap caused occilations which resulted in that engine tearing lose and rotate up over the wing. The planecould have been saved if the crew,instead of flying by the book and continuing climb out,had lowered the nose. That's the difference between a book pilot and a seat of the pants pilot who has the feel of an airplane.
kettler
karl kettler 2
Aren't You confusing the AA Chicago DC-10 crash with the United Dc-10 crash?
chalet
chalet 1
No, Mary, United Flight 232 that crashed in Sioux City that was a GE problem as a fan disk of the No. 2 engine broke loose cutting the hydraulic lines, and you know the rest of the story.
artjackson
Art Jackson -1
@chalet I disagree. Douglas chose to run all three hydraulic lines directly under the No. 2 engine. In hindsight that was a terrible design decision. If the lines were separated then the disk failure wouldn't have caused a total hydraulic systems failure. The crew would have to deal only with a loss of a single engine instead of a nearly unflyable aircraft. This lesson wasn't lost on the aircraft manufacturers. All new designs consider line proximity to each other when the routing is laid out.
chalet
chalet 2
How did Boeing run the hydraulics in the 727 ditto Lockheed with their 1011, didn't they do it just like Douglas but then again the DC-10 problema hydraulics problem cropped up after the type had logged tens of thousands of hours in actual commecial operation whereas the 787 battery issue is still unknown to Boeing or the battery makers after only a few months in operation. That is what the discussion is about: not sufficiently stringent testing becuase the 787 was already 4 years behing schedule and the penalties are killing them.
kettler
karl kettler 1
They don't usually catch on fire and takes 40 minutes to extinguish. Had that JAL 787 on the ground at Boston been in the air it would have been curtains!
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
But the batteries are only used (placed under load) on the ground when the engines are not running. That's when the heat is generated. Generators on the engines provide all electrical power when they're running. The batteries only start up the APU and other systems until they start the engines.
RRKen
Kenneth Schmidt 1
You forget that ANA was in the air when the aircraft's battery failed and started smoking. If as you say, the APU is under load when the engines are not running, then how is this explained?

I tend not to play blind cheerleader in a case like this, because peoples lives are at stake, not brand name, blind faith, or beauty. And with only probable cause, your gambling on assumptions, rather than factual cause. And without the root cause, it's like throwing darts and hoping you hit the target.

I am not comfortable with those odds at 35,000 feet.
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal -6
“ FAA approves Boeing's 787 battery solution
…………….
Boeing's proposal involves three layers of protection to prevent overheating in the lithium-ion batteries that power the 787's auxiliary power unit: improved separation between the battery cells, installing ceramic-plated spacers between each of the cells and the addition of a containment and venting system so smoke cannot enter the passenger cabin
………….. “
Ha , Ha , Ha ,
Two months gone and this is the achievement .
What an escape plan hatched in collaboration !
No mention of source or cause of excessive heat that resulted in fire and/or smoke !
So dear friends , HEATING WILL BE THERE , and so will the likelihood of fire .
It is like having more fire extinguishers without taking steps to prevent outbreak of fire !!
Wow , what a solution .
Hats off to the tall claims about the modern day technology and their ardent disciples . .
God save the travelers .
bosquetia
bosquetia 16
I'm no engineer but as I understand it, the problem was that the overheating came as a result of the cells being too close to each other and since each cell was heating up it would cause a cascading effect on the whole system. If that is correct, spacing them apart and adding ceramic dividers would fix that. Am I wrong on this?
RRKen
Kenneth Schmidt 2
That depends upon the spacing and thickness of those ceramic coated dividers. We are talking temperatures that can peak near 1000°.

Will those dividers translate heat to the adjoining cells?

Are those dividers going to act as a heat sink?

Has the charging system been re-designed to better monitor charging so as to reduce the possibility of short circuiting a cell?

Has the process of making the cell been altered to reduce the possibility of short circuiting?

Have they done run-away tests to prove the theory?

There is a lot of information we do not know as laymen. And there is nothing wrong with asking questions.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 12
It's good to know we have someone on these boards who is smarter than all of Boeing's Engineers. Thank you for gracing is with your wisdom.
honzanl
honza nl 1
where was the wisdom of these Boeing engineers when they designed the original design ?
why is the root cause still unknown if these engineers know everything and design only fantastic things?
if you believe in fairytales fly like icarus....
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
Nice deflection. My point was, I'd rather defer to the experts, I.E. professional engineers whose job and training are in fixing this sort of thing. Not just at Boeing, but the NTSB and FAA. If it was so bad a design from the beginning how did it get through tens of thousands of hours of every kind of testing imaginable before it was even certified. The best automotive engineers have their products recalled all the time.

Anybody can be a Monday morning quarterback.
honzanl
honza nl 4
but my point is: I want to be on a safe plane, not to be the subject of a flying experiment. Before, a commercial plane got ETOPS when it was proven to be safe and reliable; usually after hundreds of thousands of flight hours, now this one (with a complete new design, new e-engines, new materials, new systems, new electronic architecture) got it before the 1st commercial flight !! based on a few thousand test hours and computer modelling...That is putting commerce ahead of safety, by the same FAA. So no, I have no faith in the FAA anymore. And think: these experts failed, and now are under commercial pressure to give a green light a.s.a.p..
Think: the Comet also was put through the biggest stringent testing ever performed....and yet: it failed, costing many lives. Testing is just that: testing. Only the real world can prove is a plane is safe. And so far it failed the real world's test. And about automotive: if a car burns you can stop, and get out. If a plane is on fire above the ocean you are dead.
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 2
Thank you 'honza nl': Another sound argument, to the point and voice of sanity.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
I understand your point about the ETOPS 330, and there is some validity to it. Yes testing is testing, and it is designed to simulate real world situations far beyond what would normally be experienced in actual service. At some point someone has to make a judgement call that says the testing is sufficient. You don't trust those who make that decision, and I do. It's that simple. Yes you can pull over in a car, assuming you haven't crashed and killed yourself or someone else already. More people have died as a result of auto design and manufacturing defects than have from aviation accidents. The planes just get more publicity because they're airplanes and not cars. I think a lot of it is psychological as well because the passengers on an aircraft have no control over the situation (which is the #1 cause of the fear of flying).
akovia
akovia 1
"If it was so bad a design from the beginning how did it get through tens of thousands of hours of every kind of testing imaginable before it was even certified"

Except, maybe, actual FLIGHT TESTING?
jbbooks1
Lewis Tripp 3
So,don't fly on it.
akovia
akovia 0
I won't. Until they fix it.
Foxtrot789
Trevor Rubatzky 2
Have you ever known of a battery or electronics that DON'T get hot? When you invent 'cold batteries' let everyone know, I know i'll be interested.
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 1
@Trevor Rubatzky: Do you consider everyone stupid or what? We know that batteries can 'get hot' under certain conditions. Going ablaze and reaching stainless steel melting temperatures in a flying aircraft is the issue and the concern of the majority of the 'educated' commercial air transportation patrons.
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 1
Sounds just like another BandAid to me to continue business as usual. God forbid that we ever see a 787 go down ablaze sometime in the future. Remember Swissair Flight 111/MD-11 that crashed close to Halifax N.S. with 229 fatalities? The fire on board was suspected to have been caused (arcing) by poor or sloppy in-flight entertainment system wiring installed by a questionable now defunct Phoenix, AZ company.
itv5
Philip Mohamed -1
Who would bet the farm that the B787 is safe? Or, who would happily wave off someone, who to them, is the most important person in the world, as they disappear into the departure lounge before boarding one of these planes on a round the world flight?
bishops90
Brian Bishop 1
Me. Sure I would. Nothing that has happened has come anywhere near threatening the life of anybody. It'll be Evan safer when it flies again. In the grand scheme of things, your wife and kids still stand an exponentially greater risk of being killed by a drunk driver on the way to soccer practice. Let's keep things in perspective, shall we?
DAL498
DAL498 0
FINALLY!!!!
ericdasilva
Eric da Silva 0
Hopefully the 787 will past the tests, because an beauty like that is supposed to be up in the air and not be on the grounded.
vanstaalduinenj
Jon Van Staalduinen 0
Not a conspiracy theorist in the least, but Swiss air MD11 was a terrorist attack
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 1
The last thing I would long for to is going down and crash inside a "beauty"!
AccessAir
AccessAir -7
I guess all this technology isnt as cracked up as its advertized....Sometimes doing things the old fashioned way is the best way!! Even if it means building planes like tanks instead of like plastic tinker toys..
joelwiley
joel wiley 4
I guess you could build the 787 like a steam locomotive. Aerodynamics, weight, coaling and water stations might reduce they range, but as you said, sometimes the old fashioned ways are best. Take your own advice and post using an old fashioned Royal Typewriter.
:)
SpaceRanger
Michael McMurtrey -7
After hearing a presentation on the airplane by a United captain, I am concerned that Boeing's outsourcing of just about everything on the airplane may lead to further problems later. He cited the example of the vast number of circuit boards used in the aircraft's computerized systems. Like your home computer, many of these circuit boards have batteries to maintain system settings when the airplane is powered down. Many of these boards have been outsourced to companies which then outsourced them to other companies, to the point that not even Boeing knows how many batteries of many different kinds are on the airplane, according to this captain. He also said that, should the airplane remain fully powered down for an extended period, it can take as much as 10-12 hours to "re-boot" it.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 0
Hope those circuit boards are not made by the same people that make them for whirlpool and all their associated brands. They will be replacing them often. :-(