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Boeing Dreamliner Catches Fire In Boston 151

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-not-even-warm-in-boston dept.
19061969 writes "The BBC reports that a Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire in Boston. Carter Leake, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Virginia, said, 'I don't want to be an alarmist, but onboard fires on airplanes are as bad as it gets.' This represents bad news for Boeing especially after the FAA identified errors in the assembly of fuel line couplings in the Dreamliner."
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Boeing Dreamliner Catches Fire In Boston

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  • MSM Strikes Again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:19AM (#42517797)

    No idea how the fire started. No clue if it's a design issue or maintenance error. Scare quote from someone who's not in the airline industry. Check, check, and check.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:28AM (#42517953)

    We fly with Li Ion batteries; our big problem has been corrosion on the charging circuit. Other than the whole "catch on fire" thing, they're much safer than NiCads and Lead Acid batteries. Seriously, though, we've not had any in flight problems with them, but I have thrown out a NiCad that was swelling and smelling. Yes, I mean thrown out, from 35,000 ft, somewhere over the North Atlantic. Glad we had a door that opened in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:40AM (#42518135)

    how exactly do you open a door inwards on a pressurized hull? or, how do you manage to breath for more than 30 sec at 35k ft on an unpressurized one?

  • Re:MSM Strikes Again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:57AM (#42518373)

    Totally unqualified "educated" guess: crew left the APU on even though it's supposed to be off after the engines are up to speed?

    From what simulation and speaking with pilots I've gathered, usually you are "supposed" to turn the APU off after engine starts, though usually this is not done as it consumes a tiny fraction of fuel and gives you some wiggle room in the event of an engine failure.

    Seeing as how the plane was at the gate and the passengers from the ariving flight had deplaned, the engines better not have been up to speed or they would have had bigger problems. Usually if the APU is on while in the gate, it is because ground power is not available. This can happen, but running the APU is much more expensive than electrical ground power. As an educated guess (since I actually work on a ramp) I would assume the APU was not on. If the APU wasn't on, then a fire in the APU battery is definitely not good.

  • Re:With one fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:06AM (#42518507)

    Every commercial plane is "one of the most sophisticated" when its first created, as no customer will accept last years technology with last years performance.

    That said, there have been plenty of issues on the 787 which should not have made it to production - the QA issues that have hit over a dozen aircraft, numerous technical faults and electrical system issues etc etc etc. These are the things that the route proving part of the flight test regime are meant to find, but for some reason they haven't. If this most recent fire is due to a design fault rather than a production fault, then the FAA will be looking at their certification requirements more stringently, as they were updated for the 787s certification requirements.

  • Re:With one fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @11:31AM (#42518839)

    ... there have been plenty of issues on the 787 which should not have made it to production - the QA issues that have hit over a dozen aircraft, numerous technical faults and electrical system issues etc etc etc.

    I fully agree. Yes, all planes have issues when they're first deployed. For example, it was discovered that some parts of the wing structure on the A380 needed to be strengthened in order to meet the fatigue lifetime. However, this is not the kind of thing that would have caused failures in flight - it's a long term fatigue issue that was discovered years before it would have caused a problem. Issues like this are common since strength/fatigue vs. weight is such a difficult compromise on aircraft. 787 issues have been more the kind of thing that should have been fixed during design and testing.

    The problem with the 787, and the reason that it was years behind schedule and has so many problems, is that the executive geniuses at Boeing decided to outsource as much of the engineering as they could ("outsource" here referring to both domestic and offshore outsourcing). Many of the companies that engineering was outsourced to simply didn't have the expertise. Large airliners are not exactly the kind of thing that every job shop and subcontractor has the know-how to design. There are only two companies worth mentioning in the world that do.

    The only way they got the 787 out the door at all (and stemmed the financial bleeding of Boeing) was by taking emergency steps to find a large cadre of engineers who had decades of deep experience in airliner design. They found them at (surprise, surprise) Boeing! Golly, you mean there was some wisdom to the way the world's most successful airliner manufacturer has designed planes for decades? Whodda thunk it? No doubt the top execs at Boeing will get large bonuses for discovering this brilliant last minute solution, and blame Boeing engineering for the problems that do remain.

  • Re:With one fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:18PM (#42519535)

    Yes- this ^

    I live in Boeing's former home town (Seattle) and it may be sour grapes, but the buzz I hear here is that the other/new assembly site in South Carolina is an amateur hour kind of thing. Boeing set up shop there because of the union workers here, and the quality went away. I hear from labor and management folks both that Boeing is no longer in the aircraft business- they are now in the vendor management business, and there are no effective mechanisms for enforcing quality or delivery timeframes.

  • Re:With one fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:32PM (#42519761)

    The problem is, there are categories of problems which are acceptable to find after certification, and there are categories of problems which are not acceptable to find after certification - fatigue life issues that manifest after the initial certified inspection window (the window between certification and the first deep inspection of the first inservice airframes) are acceptable, because they do not pose an undue risk to the aircraft before they can be discovered. This is because the fatigue testing of a new airframe design continues well beyond that of the certification testing, which only tests for such things as ultimate strength etc while fatigue life, inspection periods etc are done off the basis of longer term testing.

    Components causing fires are in the category of things that should have been discovered during the certification period - there should be no risk from components like that for inservice aircraft, thats the point of certifying the compoments...

    Out of all the problems the Boeing 787 has suffered over its so far short life, the bulk of them have not been engineering issues - only two major issues have been linked to engineering quality, and that is the side of body join problem and the initial arcing problem which caused the first airborne 787 fire during testing.

    The 787s wing, designed and built by the Japanese, has proven to be better than expected spec wise.

    The 787 fuselage sections built by Spirit have proven to be bang on spec.

    There have been a few QA issues with the empennage and other parts, but nothing major.

    The major problems stem from the decision to roll out the 787 as an essentially mocked up CFRP model on the 7/8/07 - rather than wait for the build process to proceed in the planned stages, management pushed for the aircraft to be ready for the public reveal. This lead to non-aviation-grade materials to be used to mock it up, and the aircraft had to be essentially rebuilt in the most difficult way possible afterward. This management decision made a 3 month delay into a 18 month delay.

  • Re:With one fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:33PM (#42519767) Journal

    There was an article a couple of years ago where Boeing said that "the process is the product." They truly believed that managing the process of building the plane was a more important product over the plane itself. I've seen so much of this kind of thing that I used it as an example of process management gone wrong where I worked, and it triggered an interesting discussion and some changes in how IT marketed itself to the rest of the enterprise.

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