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Dreamliner not so dreamy 3rd incident in as many days

#1 User is offline   billvill 

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:06 PM

Boeing chief engineer says Dreamliner is safe to fly


The chief engineer of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner says he's "100% convinced that the airplane is safe to fly" despite a series of technical glitches in recent weeks.

"I want to reiterate that we continue to have extreme confidence in the787 airplane and the 787 ideas," Mike Sinnett, vice president and 787 chief project engineer, said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Sinnett acknowledged, however, that "clearly there are issues." But none of those issues are devastating enough to make Boeing believe that the aircraft is unsafe, he said.

"Just like any new airplane program, we work through those issues … We're not satisfied until our reliability and performance is 100%," he said.

The Dreamliner, which has only been in operation for 15 months, has had a rough rollout. This week alone, three Dreamliners have had technical problems.

On Wednesday, All Nippon Airways canceled a Dreamliner flight because some brake parts needed to be replaced. On Tuesday, a Japan Airlines flight bound for Tokyo was preparing for take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport when a fuel leak was discovered.

And on Monday, a lithium-ion battery used to power another Japan Airlines Dreamliner when the engine is shut down while on the ground caught fire at Logan. The plane was empty and no passengers were injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into both incidents at Logan. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is only looking into Monday's fire.

The incidents are a setback for Boeing, which has marketed the Dreamliner as the jetliner of the future.

The Dreamliner is the first commercial aircraft to be made largely of lightweight carbon composites rather than conventional aluminum and steel. The fuel- and cost-efficient planes have appealed to many airlines around the world and to United Airlines in the USA.

So far Boeing has delivered 49 planes and plans to provide airlines with about 800 more.

Problems started during production, causing multiple delays of the aircraft's first delivery to All Nippon. And last month, United and Qatar Airways had to divert or ground planes because of electrical issues on an aircraft that relies heavily on electricity.

Sinnett said Boeing chose to use an electric power system because it provides better fuel burn.

He said he could not specifically discuss Monday's fire because the NTSB is still investigating it. But he did offer that using a lithium-ion battery was the right decision because it is able to provide enough power for a plane that consumes so much electricity.

"The lithium-ion battery was the right choice given the constraints we had," he said. "It doesn't mean it was the only choice but it was the right choice."

Most other jets use nickel-cadmium or lead acid batteries. Noting that in a 2007 rule, the FAA set special safety conditions for the 787 batteries, including one that they be designed to prevent overheating.

"In general, lithium ion batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure," the FAA said. "The metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion."

Sinnett said the company did install safeguards for overheating.

"We installed in the battery and airplane system multiple levels of protection to prevent that … battery from overcharging," he said.

Similarly, he said, there are safeguards for ensuring that the battery is not undercharged.

He said the company is not considering other types of batteries.

"I continue to be confident in the battery system," he said.

Sinnett also addressed other issues with the plane that have come up recently.

"We were surprised by several incidents in rapid succession," he said.

On Dec. 4, a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark made an emergency landing in New Orleans after a power generator failed. A United flight on Dec. 17 also developed electrical issues. Qatar Airlines grounded one of its three Dreamliners on Dec. 13 because of concerns about the electronics.

He said the company is still in the middle of determining the root cause of those incidents but that it can be traced to a circuit board inside a power panel that was manufactured by an outside supplier.

He pointed out that only one of six primary generators on the plane was affected. "The loss of one channel represents no safety threat whatsoever," he said. "It's a capability that has sufficient redundancies."

More:
http://www.usatoday....s-fire/1819873/
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#2 User is offline   Astro_Mikey 

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 12:45 PM

Well, it's been a bad week for the 787 / Dreamliner.

ABC news

Quote

Two Japanese Airlines Ground Boeing's Dreamliner Planes After Latest Mishap

By JIM AVILA (@JimAvilaABC) and AKIKO FUJITA (@akikofujita)
Jan. 16, 2013
Two Japanese airliners have grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes after a jet was forced to make an emergency landing today, prompting more concerns as a recent string of mishaps continues to plague the new fleet.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) said a battery warning light and a burning smell were detected in the cockpit and the cabin, forcing the Dreamliner to land at Takamatsu Airport in Japan earlier today.

The domestic flight landed safely about 45 minutes after it took off and all 128 passengers and eight crew members had to evacuate using the emergency chutes. Two people sustained minor injuries on their way down the chute, Osamu Shinobe, ANA senior executive vice president, told a news conference in Tokyo.

ANA and its rival -- Japan Airlines (JAL) -- subsequently grounded their Dreamliner fleets. ANA operates 17 of Boeing's Dreamliner planes, while JAL has seven 787s in service.

Both airliners say the Dreamliner fleet will remain grounded at least through Thursday.

ANA said the battery in question during today's incident was the same lithium-ion type battery that caught fire on board the JAL Dreamliner in Boston last week. Inspectors found liquid leaking from the battery today, and said it was "discolored"

Japan's transport ministry categorized the problem as a "serious incident" that could have led to an accident.

John Hansman, MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics, said, "If this was an actual fire, that's a major problem. And it would be a major problem even if nothing happened over the past week."

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it is "monitoring a preliminary report of an incident in Japan earlier today [Wednesday] involving a Boeing 787."

After the latest incident, Boeing said, "We will be working with our customer and the appropriate regulatory agencies."

The Japanese Transport Ministry dispatched its own inspectors to Takamatsu Airport today. A spokesman said the Transport Safety Board and Civil Aviation Bureau will conduct separate investigations.

The FAA ordered a comprehensive review of the plane's design in a news conference Jan. 11 with Boeing. But the agency assured the public that the 787s were safe to continue flying while they looked into the fleet's design and safety measures.

Manabu Tanaka, who was on the ANA flight today, said he smelled something burning about 20 minutes after takeoff.

"I knew the plane was new so I thought maybe the smell had something to do with that," Tanaka said. "All of a sudden, I felt the plane drop. It happened about two or three times. With the smell, and the turbulence I began to get really concerned."

MIT's Hansman said, "Clearly, people are very jumpy and they're nervous. I think that the review that's going on now will settle things down."

Passenger Tanaka said he can't avoid 787 travel because he flies so much for business, but is "a little scared to board the Dreamliner, considering everything that happened."

A fire broke out Jan. 7 on an empty JAL Dreamliner at Boston's Logan Airport after a non-stop flight from Tokyo. It took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the blaze.

One day later, a different Dreamliner jet owned by JAL sprang a leak from its number-one engine right before takeoff at Logan Airport, spilling about 40 gallons of fuel onto the runway. It had to be towed back to the gate before taking off later that day.

ANA cancelled a domestic flight to Tokyo Jan. 9 after a computer wrongly indicated there was a problem with the Boeing 787's brakes.

A 3-foot-long crack appeared in the cockpit window of an ANA 787 flying in Japan Jan. 11.

Another JAL Dreamliner leaked fuel while undergoing tests at the airport near Tokyo Jan. 13. It was the same plane involved in the Jan. 8 incident in Boston.

No one was injured in any of those incidents, but JAL has followed ANA's lead and also ordered their entire 787 feet to be grounded.

"As a result of the incident involving another airline's 787 in Japan today, to ensure safety, JAL has decided to cancel its 787 operations today," JAL said in a statement earlier today.

Six 787s have been delivered to the United States, all purchased by United, while there are 50 flying worldwide, including Poland and Chile.

United has not made any plans to ground its 787s.

"It's a rough couple weeks for Boeing and ANA," Hansman of MIT said. "I think clearly in the short term this type of bad press has been tough for Boeing. I think in the long haul, this is a good airplane. It's in a good market."



We were hoping to fly ANA to Tokyo on our next trip in order to ride in the Dreamliner. I'm beginning to have second thoughts about that ...
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#3 User is offline   Dingo 

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

View PostAstro_Mikey, on 16 January 2013 - 12:45 PM, said:

Well, it's been a bad week for the 787 / Dreamliner.

ABC news



We were hoping to fly ANA to Tokyo on our next trip in order to ride in the Dreamliner. I'm beginning to have second thoughts about that ...

hmmm you go to Japan bigass earthquake and tsunami hit

planning to fly to Japan on certain type plane and gremlins strike.

me thinks you need to stay home
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#4 User is offline   Astro_Mikey 

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:26 PM

View PostDingo, on 16 January 2013 - 02:19 PM, said:

hmmm you go to Japan bigass earthquake and tsunami hit

planning to fly to Japan on certain type plane and gremlins strike.

me thinks you need to stay home


Might be right.

But Osaka is calling me. As are the mountains of Nagano. Maybe later this year. Maybe next year. :shrug:
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#5 User is offline   LadyV1284 

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:41 PM

Breaking news reports that all Dreamliners are being grounded. It sounds to me like Boeing should have performed a lot more testing before the release.
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#6 User is offline   stonewizard51 

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:32 AM

View PostLadyV1284, on 16 January 2013 - 06:41 PM, said:

Breaking news reports that all Dreamliners are being grounded. It sounds to me like Boeing should have performed a lot more testing before the release.

Yeah but money talks.
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#7 User is offline   billvill 

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:08 AM

View Poststonewizard51, on 17 January 2013 - 09:32 AM, said:

Yeah but money talks.

Hopefully it doesn't talk people into dying, eh?
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#8 User is offline   16J.Dziedzic 

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:57 AM

Soon to be renamed the Jart!
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#9 User is offline   FanSince74 

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:18 AM

View Post16J.Dziedzic, on 18 January 2013 - 06:57 AM, said:

Soon to be renamed the Jart!



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#10 User is offline   Astro_Mikey 

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 05:30 AM

PopSci.com article

Quote

Q: What is the 787 Dreamliner and why do we care?
A: The Dreamliner is a massive jet from Boeing, the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the first major airplane to be made with composite materials--specifically, carbon fiber reinforced plastic. It's made of 80% composite by volume, which makes it much lighter than typical planes without sacrificing strength, and has a lot of nice consumer-facing features--bigger windows, new noise reduction techniques, modular bathrooms, and more space for passengers. It'll hold up to 296 passengers, too--this is a big boy. It's not a revolutionary plane, but we all care about it because it's the next evolution of the planes we'll all take. You probably won't fly on an all-electric plane any time soon, but you probably will fly on a Dreamliner.

Q: Cool! So how come I can't catch one flying out of my local airport tomorrow?
A: Well, here's the thing about the Dreamliner: it's been plagued with more serious problems than any other major new jet line in recent memory. Its batteries have a tendency to catch on fire. Earlier this week, both Japan Airlines and the FAA grounded all Dreamliners under their control until we can get a handle on why these things keep breaking.

Q: What's wrong with them?
The Dreamliner relies on electrical power much more than its predecessor, the 777. Earlier planes used bleed air, which is super-hot, super-pressurized air taken from within the engine, and used it for all kinds of functions, from de-icing to pressurizing the cabin itself. But in order to cut down on energy use, the 787 relies instead on electrical power for that, from some very powerful lithium ion batteries. Those batteries have of late taken up a new hobby: catching on fire and freaking the hell out of all of us.

Q: Wait a second, lithium ion batteries? Like in hybrid/electric cars? And phones and laptops and a million other things?
A: Well, kinda. There are different kinds of lithium ion batteries, using different chemicals and different reactions, and they behave pretty differently. This is a great explanation of what's going on in those batteries, but in short, the Dreamliner uses cobalt oxide batteries, the same kind as what's used in smartphones, laptops, and tablets. It's chosen for all of those purposes because it's got a crazy-high energy content for its size and weight--like, twice that of the batteries used in electric cars--but it also has one very big problem. That would be heat.
Gadget makers have worked for years on cooling methods so their batteries don't catch on fire, and sometimes they do anyway, but these batteries are pretty small and not all that hazardous. The batteries in a Dreamliner, on the other hand, are huge. And on fire.

Q: But planes always have problems at first, right? Aren't these just growing pains?
A: Yeah, that's a common thought, helped along by just about every Boeing exec and anyone else who has a financial stake in the Dreamliner not catching on fire repeating it. And it's not false, exactly. But the problems the Dreamliner is having aren't exactly the same kinds of problems as, say, the Boeing 777. The 777 has had eight so-called "aviation occurrences," which is airplane code for "accidents." But those problems were mostly easy to solve--there were a few issues with the de-icing system, which was subsequently redesigned, and all the other issues were one-offs, like a 2011 cockpit fire that was probably due to "a possible electrical fault with a supply hose in the cockpit crew oxygen system."
The Dreamliner has had many more problems. Cockpit windows have cracked several times. At least three of the 50 active Dreamliners have had overheating problems with the lithium ion batteries, leading to smoke and/or fire. Two planes have had fuel leak problems. These are much more difficult to manage than a de-icing flaw; you can't just swap out the batteries, since there are no other batteries with the same size and energy storage, and as the batteries are a much more integral part of the plane's entire operation, this isn't a small issue. The fact that the Dreamliners have had similar problems is a cause for concern.

Q: How long was this thing in development? How did this slip by?
A: Ah, good question. The Dreamliner has had a very long and tumultuous birthing process, with several redesigns over the years. The Dreamliner is actually several years behind schedule on many of its deliveries; you'd think in that time someone would make sure the thing didn't catch on fire. But nobody really knows how this kind of thing got by; best guess is that with such a new kind of electrical power system, nobody really knew how the Dreamliner would respond with repeated use. On the other hand, Qatar Airlines CEO Akbar Al Baker, among other "airline insiders," has said he's not surprised by the groundings.

Q: What happens now?
A: The FAA and the equivalents in other countries will conduct full-scale investigations into the problems with the Dreamliners. We won't know what the solutions are until we see those findings. So the answer to the sub-question here, "can the battery situation be fixed and how," is "it can probably be fixed, but until we know precisely what the problem is we won't know how." In the meantime, some of the airlines are demanding payment, considering they just spent millions of dollars on a plane they can't fly, and it's possible that others will decide not to continue with their purchases. Boeing has about 800 Dreamliners set to be built; if people start pulling out, the company is going to be in serious trouble.

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