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“It’s not the batteries” is not good news for Boeing

This is supposed to be good news for Boeing? It simply means now there are at least two unknown root causes of fires on the 787, not just one.

Image of rear half of the Ethiopian 787 that caught fire at Heathrow

Note the burned out top of the fuselage just ahead of the vertical stabilizer. Photo from the linked New York Times article, originally from Reuters TV.

Remember, they didn’t “fix” the battery problem, because to this day they still don’t know what caused that either. They only enclosed and vented it, so that when if that catches fire, flames go shooting out a new vent on the underbelly. Yes, they threw some software and physical changes at it, to see if any might help, but without any proof of what actually failed in the first place.

In other words, they just spitballed it, hoping something might stick.

Now the same for a new cause of fire? Continue reading »

Fireliner Redux

Boeing 787 fire incident shuts London Heathrow airport – World News.

I wasn’t going to make my first Fuzzy Wanderer post after a hiatus about the Dreamliner, again. I really wasn’t. But the Dreamliner caught fire, after its hiatus, again. So here we are.

Boeing 787 fire incident shuts London Heathrow airport - World News

Not to say “I told you so”, but if you’ve read this travel blog, I’ve told you so. Continue reading »

Boeing: further flights of fantasy on Dreamliner battery problem

Boeing: Dreamliner battery tests should be done soon. From Boeing’s chutzpah-laden pronouncements at Friday’s press briefing in Tokyo:

Boeing says it still doesn’t know why batteries failed, but the fixes they have developed will cover any possible future problem, and the airliner should be back flying shortly.

(emphasis mine)

ANA 787 smokelinerWell, that’s a relief! They know that any possible future failure will not be a problem. No need worrying about those pesky root causes.

Look, I don’t pretend to be an aeronautical engineer. But I was a software engineer (yeah, I know, “not real engineers”), and I’ve been involved in plenty of QA, root cause analysis, risk mitigation, and similar failure post-mortems. Continue reading »

NTSB Chair is honest, calls 787 problems very serious

Unlike the more politicized FAA, and the various folks claiming the 787 battery fire issues are simply “teething problems”, the US National Transportation Safety Board chairperson, Deb Hersman, is a straight-talker. She did a press conference where she presented a load of detail about what they do and don’t know, about the battery system, and how it is nowhere near a solution – because nobody is anywhere near an understanding of what went wrong.

Respected airline commentator Christine Negroni, who writes and contributes for the New York Times, MSNBC, and has written a book about the TWA 800 crash, highlights how the NTSB chair cut through all the BS.

Burnt battery casing and circuit boards and battery pack

A burnt battery pack from the 787. Photo courtesy of the linked Reuters article, origin NTSB.

The NTSB is also revisiting the claims by a whistleblower from the company that makes the chargers for the 787 battery. A company which had a disastrous fire that burned down its HQ building from a battery overload. A company which then fired and discredited the whistleblower.

Securaplane Technologies “got some ‘splainin’ to do”. But as Negroni points out in an earlier column, so do the various airline execs who keep claiming they have “faith in the Dreamliner¨.


The Americas Get Their First 787 – in South America

As a new resident of South America, and a semi-regular on LAN, I’m excited by the news that today (31 Aug 2012 US West Coast date), LAN Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Though not the first Dreamliner to reach the Americas, it is the first by an American Airline, LAN Airlines, of Chile, South America. “American” referring to the single supercontinent of The Americas, taken together, as it is commonly considered by most of the non-North American world.

The "dome" upon entry to the LAN 787 - photo credit USA TodayThe Everett, Washington (main Boeing assembly location) Weekly Herald reports on the delivery. United will be the second Americas airline, getting a 787 later this North American fall, and running a new Denver to Tokyo route and other “long and narrow” routes, after some US-domestic familiarization flights. United’s partner in Star Alliance and in its deeper bilateral Trans-Pacific joint-venture revenue share deal, is already flying 787s to the USA, as is their competitor JAL.

But nobody from the Western Hemisphere is yet flying them. LAN starts the onboard party. Just look at the photo (credit USA Today) with the high-ceiling, bright mood lighting, open airy feel as you board. This isn’t an artist’s rendering or a mock-up, it’s what LAN actually got from Boeing. Sadly, United cheapened out Continue reading »

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