An M.I.T. professor has several possible fixes for the 787 battery problem, which are explained in the above article. These fixes could delay the 787s from flying until 2014.
Could this cause Boeing to close the 787 line down temporarily? They can't even fly the new planes until the no fly has been lifted. How much room do they have to store 787's at both of their facilities? Can they keep paying salaries etc. to produce planes without the fix, that can't fly and store them?
tdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 81 Reply 1, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 20727 times:
Quoting jlbmedia (Thread starter): An M.I.T. professor has several possible fixes for the 787 battery problem, which are explained in the above article. These fixes could delay the 787s from flying until 2014.
I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that Boeing's not going to pursue any technology that doesn't get them flying for a year unless they have no other option.
I'm also baffled how an MIT materials professor could claim that the elctrolyte in a lead-acid battery is "relatively harmless" or that he thinks an main aviation battery can be had for $1000. I'm hoping this was editorial license on the part of the reporter.
lightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 11952 posts, RR: 100 Reply 2, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 20622 times:
Even with a one year delay, Boeing has too many commitments to vendors to just shut down the line.
Let's do a thought game. What if the line is shut down for a year? That means vendors and sub-vendors suddenly are not delivering per contract without a hard restart date. Some will thus lay off staff. Thus, once production starts back up, the vendors won't be ready and Boeing's ramp rate will be at the mercy of hundreds of 'little guys.' Their engineers, technicians, and other skilled employees will have moved on.
I suspect in a long delay Boeing would slow the line, but not stop it. Restarting a line is very difficult and expensive. That is one reason, despite the issues, Boeing kept building 788s despite a backlog of them on the flight line.
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1): Boeing could cancel the entire program tomorrow and not go bankrupt (although it would be one heck of a stock hit).
Agreed. But this problem isn't that insurmountable. Worst case is that the 787 is pulled down to ETOPS 135 with a temporary fix (substitute battery).
I went out on a limb and early on predicted a multi-month grounding of the 787. We remain on track for that, a multi month (not a year or even a half year) grounding. There are options to certify new batteries for short replacement intervals. Costly? But cheaper than grounding the fleet for so long.
I feel for the engineer's families who are assigned to solve this issue...
Any news on the fuel leaks? IMHO a forgotten about issue, but part of the reason the 787 was grounded. I suspect a drawing revision to keep the mistakes from happening again.
We've all seen the lines of 787s parked up, however I'm sure this wouldn't be a reason to stop building them. I would imagine that they could design a quick, short term fix that would allow them to fly planes to another storage facility.
tdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 81 Reply 4, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 20112 times:
Quoting lightsaber (Reply 2): Any news on the fuel leaks? IMHO a forgotten about issue, but part of the reason the 787 was grounded.
All quiet on that front as far as I can tell...I heard conflicting claims (all unsubstantiated) that it was a maintenance error or a software error and nothing more. However, unless the FAA is being very coy, I don't think the fuel leaks figured into the grounding.
gihanjaya380 From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 9 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 19838 times:
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1): I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that Boeing's not going to pursue any technology that doesn't get them flying for a year unless they have no other option.
According to the news I have heard so far is that Boeing is still manufacturing the aircrafts until the problem is fixed, but there are no new deliveries being made until the battery problem is fixed. Since they have so many orders for the 787, any delay will take a bite out of the revenue. They have to keep building these aircrafts and when the problem is fixed, they will have to implement these changes to the existing aircrafts as well as the current line up.
Boeing will not wait for one year, as Tom mentioned, to fix these issues.
ADent From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 1286 posts, RR: 2 Reply 8, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 19314 times:
They won't be grounded for a year.
Boeing needs the planes rolling off the production line to make up time for the 3+ year delay to the program, and this is not a program killing problem.
They need to wait a couple of weeks to see where this is heading - then jump on a solution.
There are teams at Boeing looking at using an existing battery retrofitted - even if it kills ETOPS. There are also teams looking at a better containment system (say 1" thick steel, titanium, high temperature nickel based alloy, etc). Non-rechargeable solutions. Jet-A powered Honda generators. What EVER it takes to get the fleet airborne in under 90 days.
The plans for the most likely solutions are being worked now in parallel, so when Boeing makes its decision and announcement they will hit the ground running with the chosen fix.
Any idea on how long it takes to certify a new build of flight software? My guess is that will take longer than rigging up some replacement batteries and re-wiring.
francoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3523 posts, RR: 11 Reply 9, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 19148 times:
The article in the OP is strange. I'm not sure I can rely much on it.
Basically, it sounds too simplistic. It makes it sound as if Boeing chose the least safe technological solution and simply forgot to think about battery heating and how to cool it down.
It might be down to dumbing down the technical level for the masses or simply poor journalism.
Still, the solutions offered by this professor are to either switch ti NiMH or find a way to cool down the whole battery, which apparently heats up and enters thermal runaway due to the lack of proper cooling for the cells stuck in the middle of it.
I don't know what to make of that. It can't be that simplistic, can it?
Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
rwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2145 posts, RR: 2 Reply 10, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 19126 times:
Quoting frmrCapCadet (Reply 5): So if it really got down to it could Boeing and the airlines have batteries that did not need charging, and switch them out as needed? Kludgey, no?
Not really, unless you increased their capacity considerably. There are loads on those batteries when the airplane is powered down (for example, the parking brakes), and the battery capacity is sized to meet the requirements of a worst case power failure for a required amount of time. So the system assumes the batteries are mostly charged.
While (incorrect) charging is the most common time for Li-Ions to fail, it's not the only time. They can fail while discharging, and also just sitting there (although in the absence of mechanical damage, that's pretty rare). So I'd think they'd have to prove that whatever is wrong with the batteries won't cause excessive failures in non-charging conditions.
jayunited From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 640 posts, RR: 1 Reply 11, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 10765 times:
I don't think Boeing would need to stop the entire 787 line because even if they fill up Paine Field they still have their new plant in South Carolina. So the only way I see Boeing shutting down the 787 line is if a major rework or major design changes have to take place. So although this guy at MIT thinks he has all the answers figured out I think Boeing will wait till the experts finish their investigation and present their findings and recommendations before they shut down the entire 787 production line.
If this is simply a battery and electrical problem then it might be in Boeing best interest to continue building the fuselage of the planes, the wings, stabilizers and install the hydraulics and the landing gear and the wiring bundle and just role the planes out and store them then once the problem is fixed they can install the batteries connect all the electrics and go forward with all the test wit deliveries taking a minimal delay. However if they shut down the line completely that will push all deliveries even further back another delay Boeing can't take right now. So as long as no major rework needs to happen I think Boeing will continue to build 787's just without the batteries.
phxa340 From United States of America, joined Mar 2012, 783 posts, RR: 1 Reply 12, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 10284 times:
Simply put - they can't. It would absolutely destroy the supply chain that Boeing has propped up for the last 3 years. If Boeing stops sending payments to their suppliers because of stalled production, the suppliers that Boeing rely on now go out of business. Boeing is in a big time pickle here but that's where having a ton of cash on hand comes in big time handy. Boeing will be fine in the long run but the fiscal 2013 year for them is going to be ugly.
mrocktor From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1662 posts, RR: 50 Reply 13, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 6577 times:
Production does not stop due to in service issues. They can build planes and (in most cases) fly them around between their facilities (may require putting an experimental number on the plane). They cannot put a Certificate of Airworthiness on a plane and therefore cannot deliver new planes until the issue is resolved in some way (may be a modification, a temporary mitigation measure, change to procedures, etc.). If they have undelivered airplanes which already have CofA, those are grounded with the rest of the fleet.
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1): I'm also baffled how an MIT materials professor could claim that the elctrolyte in a lead-acid battery is "relatively harmless" or that he thinks an main aviation battery can be had for $1000. I'm hoping this was editorial license on the part of the reporter.
I'm not. Academics being out of touch with the real world is the norm, not the exception.
strfyr51 From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 549 posts, RR: 0 Reply 14, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6301 times:
the Lithium Ion battery problem is not so insurmountable that it can't be fixed in a timely manner, EVEN if Boeing would have to resort to Proven battery technology. this might Seem like a big deal but it's really NOT.
7BOEING7 From United States of America, joined Oct 2012, 1056 posts, RR: 5 Reply 15, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6106 times:
Quoting mrocktor (Reply 13): They can build planes and (in most cases) fly them around between their facilities (may require putting an experimental number on the plane).
All the airplanes Boeing has built and is building have an AD against them. Even in a production/experimental mode they will have to get together with the FAA and come up with an "alternate means of compliance" (AMOC) or a fix before the feds will let them back in the air.
mrocktor From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1662 posts, RR: 50 Reply 16, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5923 times:
Quoting 7BOEING7 (Reply 15): All the airplanes Boeing has built and is building have an AD against them.
The AD applies to "all The Boeing Company Model 787-8 airplanes, certificated in any category", see item (c) of the AD. This means it applies to all delivered aircraft (obviously) and all undelivered aircraft with a Certificate of Airworthiness. It may or may not apply to 787-8 prototypes and production aircraft not yet certified and flying as experimental aircraft. Legally those aircraft are not certificated under the "Model 787-8" type.
Obviously the manufacturer coordinates with the authority when deciding whether to continue flying their experimental fleet (in the cases where it is legal to do so). The manufacturer obviously does not want to take unreasonable risks with their own personnel and property either.
type-rated From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 4731 posts, RR: 20 Reply 17, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5479 times:
Saw a note on the news yesterday that Boeing is in full production of the 787 while the investigations are going on and even later in the year Boeing plans to "step it up" with production due to so many orders.
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
catiii From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 2567 posts, RR: 3 Reply 18, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4819 times:
Quoting type-rated (Reply 17): Saw a note on the news yesterday that Boeing is in full production of the 787 while the investigations are going on and even later in the year Boeing plans to "step it up" with production due to so many orders.
PW100 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2002, 2165 posts, RR: 12 Reply 22, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 4400 times:
Quoting catiii (Reply 18): That was reiterated on the earnings call as well.
Still, something does not seem to add up.
Apparently, Boeing is at around 5 per month right now**, should hit 7 per month by mid-year, and 10 per month by year's end**. That equates to a pretty good average of say 7 per month over the whole year, or 80+ for the full year. And that is not counting any additional frames currently in, or waiting for change incorporation.
At the 2012Q4 earnings session, Boeing's latest forecast now shows plans to deliver at least 60 787s in 2013.
That is an average rate of just five per month for the full year (again not counting any additional frames currently in, or waiting for change incorporation) . They are already practically at five per month right now, so where is the ramp-up . . . . ??
Off course they may deliver more than the forecast, but 60 is very low, when compared to 2012 totals, considering the anticipated aggresive ramp up.
Wisdom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 24, posted (10 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4196 times:
Quoting phxa340 (Reply 23): It adds up to 60 when you are taking into consideration there are going to be zero deliveries in Jan (not sure if any delivered in jan before the grounding) and probably Feb and maybe March.
That doesn't make sense. If the deliveries restart in April after a fix is implemented, the aircraft not delivered in January through March would be delivered in April together with the planned April deliveries.
The fix should be quite easy to install, a set of new batteries, a set of new control systems, some wiring. 1 to 3 days per airframe should be achievable and ideally this would use additional resources so that all the January to March aircraft can be retrofitted at a rate of 10-30 a week using resources other than the regular production resources.
25 7BOEING7: Boeing is always very conservative in their outlook. I think McN is just hedging his bets and we'll see a better number (quality not necessarily quan
26 ikramerica: There are only so many aircraft that can be test flown and certified at a time, even if there are more waiting.
27 mrocktor: Production != delivery. There is a lot that goes on between production and delivery: outfitting, testing, acceptance procedures, etc. Ramping up the
28 txjim: This may be self-serving given my profession, but there is a reason that engineers are used to design products. Professors tend to have poor track re
29 ServantLeader: We've all heard of cars that have had mysterious "electrical" problems that even experienced mechanics couldn't quite trace to a definitive root cause
30 rotating14: With all do respect explain how a battery defect on the 787 ' ranks up there with the greatest corporate bungles of all time'?
31 7BOEING7: True, however if the airplanes are continuing to be built and they are completed up to the B-1 flight, including all "travelers", the only tasks left
32 ServantLeader: If you believe that a defective battery is the extent of Boeing's 787 problems then we have nothing further to discuss.
33 tdscanuck: The 787 has already undergone a total redesign of the electrical system, the wing-to-body joint, the IFE system, the supply chain, and a boatload of
34 7BOEING7: A total redesign of the electrical system?--if you're talking about the ZA002 issue it was probably 10% or less.
35 lightsaber: I should have written better, I meant the Japanese grounding which was due to 7 incidents in 8 days of which 2 were the fuel system. If it was just a