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Government Japan Transportation Technology

Japan Grounds Fleet of Boeing 787s After Emergency Landing 180

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-fly-list dept.
hcs_$reboot writes "The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has already occupied some of Slashdot news space recently: FAA to investigate the 787 (Jan 11) or 787 catches fire in Boston (Jan 08). Today (Jan 16 JST) another incident happened that led to Japan grounding its entire 787 fleet until an internal investigation gives more information about the problem. A 787 from ANA had a battery problem and smoke was detected in the electronics. The plane had to make an emergency landing and passengers were evacuated. "
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Japan Grounds Fleet of Boeing 787s After Emergency Landing

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  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:24PM (#42606455)

    Why, just last week Boeing told us the safety concerns were a non-issue!

    • Yes!! I love self-interested assertions. They are the true test of validation and veracity. Like the FBI stating so clearly that they did not entrap Megaupload, or violate jurisdiction.

      Who needs to specifically address the specific critical points, when patronization has so much integrity?

      And...
      You have best handle ever. Ever.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:28PM (#42606507)

      Well someone had to buy those Samsung battery, after the laptop recall.

    • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:41PM (#42606709)

      Second Li-Poly battery total meltdown in as many weeks.

      Boeing had to get the FAA to waive its rules regarding Lithium batteries [avherald.com] on planes in order to get this plane certified in the first place, and build containment boxes for the batteries into the design.

      For the most part the risk of Lithium batteries lies in the requirement for rigid control of recharging, being careful not to over charge and also of draining the battery completely, the annoying habit of catching fire when the rules are not followed, or when the battery is short-circuited make large Li batteries (8-gram equivalent lithium content or more) banned in luggage, and shipments.

      I suspect that the FAA will rescind this waiver, and force the replacement of the battery packs with something less prone to burn..

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:10PM (#42607047) Homepage

        No other type of battery has the same capacity/weight ratio though, so either they cut down on the functionality or they increase the weight of the aircraft (and thus reduce its fuel efficiency somewhat). To make it worth using Li-Poly over something else they must really need a hell of a lot of energy storage, otherwise the space and weight saving wouldn't be enough to risk it.

        • by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:22PM (#42607241)

          Seems more like a QA problem. Energy density is important, but reliability and safety trumps implementation waivers. There's an engineering team that's getting an earful, and rightfully so. Cheers to the airlines for having the guts to ground their fleets; ANA and JAL just went up on my list.

          • by multi io (640409)

            Seems more like a QA problem. Energy density is important, but reliability and safety trumps implementation waivers.

            Do you think Boeing would have used the high energy density if low energy density would have sufficed? They wouldn't have included those Li-Poly batteries and endured all the regulatory hassle that comes with them if they hadn't really needed it for their basic aircraft design. Which means they probably can't really replace them now. I understand that the 787 doesn't use bleed air, which saves energy, but means that you need much more electrical power to supply the formerly bleed-air driven systems (like ca

            • by siddesu (698447)
              Yes. The batteries are a part of a marketing trick. 787 is sold as a miracle fuel-saver, so I won`t be surprised if engineering was subject to a lot of pressure and made unreasonable and outright dangerous decisions to achieve the marketing goals of 30% fuel savings. This happens often enough. And since it is 1/3 "made in Japan", the Japanese airlines had it unloaded on them probably with some armtwisting. Kinda like the unsafe reactors in Fuckyoushima. As always, it is business first, safety later.
            • > Do you think Boeing would have used the high energy density if low energy density would have sufficed? They wouldn't have included those Li-Poly batteries and endured all the regulatory hassle that comes with them if they hadn't really needed it for their basic aircraft design.

              Heh. Not my point at all. The design called for a battery, they choise Li, and now that choice is biting them-- after a waiver. They designed and deployed through all their "testing", this design, whichis biting them hard.

              I don't

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:27PM (#42607317)

          Somehow I suspect most airlines consider not catching on fire more important than a slight improvement in fuel efficiency. Someone's going to lose a shedload of money if these planes are out of service for long.

          • Somehow I suspect most airlines consider not catching on fire more important than a slight improvement in fuel efficiency.

            Agreed.

            Someone's going to lose a shedload of money if these planes are out of service for long.

            The alternative is losing a shedload of people if warnings aren't looked into, and develop into catastrophic failure. Too many preventable air accidents have happened because money was a factor (rushed takeoffs to stay under pilot flighttime limits; takeoff/landing in terrible weather; poor or improper maintenance/parts; ill-equipped airports and control towers; etc).

            The 787 has been in active service only a bit over a year, they really have not yet found all the bugs. British Airways 038, a Boeing 7

        • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:57PM (#42610327)

          To make it worth using Li-Poly over something else they must really need a hell of a lot of energy storage, otherwise the space and weight saving wouldn't be enough to risk it.

          You're the first person on this entire thread to hit the nail on the head. The Dreamliner uses a sophisticated network of computers and sensors to fly. If all the engines fail, power must be supplied from the APU, basically a UPS for airplanes. Because of the amount of electronics and the fact that due to a lack of power the hydraulics and other critical systems must also remain powered... there is a massive power need. The APU is designed to power the aircraft's systems in the event of an all engine failure from cruising altitude all the way to landing; Although the more common scenario is that an electrical fault causes fuses, etc., to blow, and the APU is switched on (an isolated power source) so the plane can land safely.

          • The 787 is supposed to use electrical actuators instead of hydraulics powered by engine bleed air. That is where the need for all that power comes from.
      • by spirito (1552779)
        Only Li batteries have the energy density required for Boeing "more electric" aircraft concept (http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=222308).
        • by JanneM (7445)

          Seems the "more electric" concept isn't really viable until a safer high-density battery technology is available, then.

      • this energy density is not safe for flight, folks. you can't get out and wait at the side of the road for the fire to stop, like you can if your hybrid car starts arcing and smoking.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        For aircraft, the real reason is lithium + aluminum leads to rapid oxidation of the aluminum. Basically a small blob of lithium in contact with aluminum will eat a hole in the aluminum. That's why there's lithium restrictions. The containment vessel has to be made of another metal (steel, normally) so that the lithium will not come into contact with any aluminum structure.

        • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:18PM (#42610637)

          No, that's not why.

          The reason is that lithium fires happen fairly easily, and the fire extinguishing systems aboard aircraft are not all that effective against such fires.

          Several FAA bulletins have reported that "The current fire suppression agent, Halon 1301, found in class C cargo compartments is inefficient in controlling a lithium metal cell fire." Yet halon is just about all they have on board other than water.

          See Slide 7: http://www.777cheatsheets.com/resources/Lithium_Battery.pdf [777cheatsheets.com]

          See Page 9: http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/04-26.pdf [faa.gov]

          Tests were conducted using 4, 8, 16, and 32 CR2 batteries, the 10.75 fire pan, and 220 ml of
          1-propanol. In each case, the results were identical. Discharging the halon prior to battery
          ignition resulted in the extinguishment of the 1-propanol fire and no battery involvement.
          However, discharging the halon after only one battery was ignited had no effect on stopping the
          propagation of the battery fire to adjacent batteries. The halon extinguished the 1-propanol fire
          immediately but had no effect on the lithium fire with the exception of turning the normally
          white sparks bright red.
          The color change of the lithium sparks indicated that a reaction was occurring between the
          lithium and the Halon 1301. This reaction had no effect on the fire progression, neither
          hindering nor promoting the spread of the battery fire. The vented electrolyte fires, normally
          pale red in color, turned bright red when exposed to Halon 1301.

      • by labnet (457441)

        Not all lithium batteries are equal. Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for example are reasonably safe. You can over charge them, put a nail through them plus they last 10 years, but they don't have as high an energy density as found in cobalt based cells which are more typically used in laptops and cellphones. Lithium will still catch fire though is exposed to water!

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Yeah, this is what I was gonna say, the R/C guys are moving to LiFePo because it's more stable than normal LiPos. Why didn't Boeing?

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Well, I think this is becoming a bit of a mania, too. Would a warning light of the same nature triggered an emergency landing and deployment of the inflatable slides on any other plane? I doubt it. The passengers were in no immediate threat, especially after the plane landed, and chute evacuations always result in some minor injuries. So why did they do it? I'm not saying it's a conspiracy, just that life gets a lot tougher once everybody views you with skepticism.
      • They did it because on top of the smoke warning, they also got a battery fault warning in the same cargo compartment where a battery caught fire on a sister airplane just last week.

        The slide chutes were perhaps a bit much if there was no smoke in the cabin after landing, but the emergency landing itself is easily justified.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Because where there's smoke, there is fire?

        You don't just ignore smoke.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Tell that to those who perished on Swissair's flight 111. There, the indications of a fire were ignored.

      • by samkass (174571)

        I think in retrospect the emergency landing was the right call and the inflatable slides were not. You don't fool around with fire in a plane, but asking passengers to deplane via slide is also not to be taken lightly. And I think you're probably right that the previous incidents led them to over-react on the evacuation. But in the end it was the pilot's call and I'd rather have a pro-active pilot than one afraid to do what they think is right.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It was 100% the right decision to err on the side of safety. They did not know how much the fire had progressed towards fuel lines. Which had "fuel dripping" issues with the 787 recently.

          But hell yeah, if these pilots were better politicians, the Boeing $hills would have it easier to explain away everthing on message boards like this.

        • by jrumney (197329)

          I think in retrospect the emergency landing was the right call and the inflatable slides were not. You don't fool around with fire in a plane, but asking passengers to deplane via slide is also not to be taken lightly.

          So you want a plane with a suspected fire onboard to pull up next to the terminal building and use the airbridge? Or you want the passengers to sit on the burning plane waiting for the mobile stairs to drive over from the other end of the airport to the quarantine area where planes at risk of

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          This approach has killed hundreds of people in the past as they burned alive or suffocated while pilots and airport personnel dicked around instead of getting them off the damn plane.

      • by Dzimas (547818)
        A well trained crew does not simply declare an in-flight emergency for fun. They'd much rather proceed to their destination than put the aircraft down at the nearest alternate after an ear-popping emergency descent which is rapidly followed by an emergency evacuation and a transportation board investigation. As for your assertion that their reaction was manic, do you remember this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swissair_Flight_111 [wikipedia.org]
    • by tibit (1762298)

      I think that Boeing has simply regressed, like most big, legacy american corporations. Over time, they seem to be able to accomplish less and less, while taking more and more money to do it. If there was another Musk-style visionary to have a SpaceX-style operation, but making jets, they could probably capture the entire market in two decades...

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:26PM (#42606487) Homepage

    "Dreamliner, Screamliner..."

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:29PM (#42606517) Homepage Journal

      No Oscar. But they will. They will.
      -- James Abbot McNeil Whistler

    • Yes, lets take things out of proportion. That is the American Way.

    • Notice that the date it entered service was very close to Halloween...

    • There have been a lot of lessons learned since SW111. The biggest lesson is, IMO, that of a quick response. One of the big problems with SW111 (and AC797) was that delays (a matter of seconds in the case of AC797) made the difference between life and death. The ANA pilot declared an emergency, got the plane on the ground, and got the passengers off ASAP.

      It hasn't been clarified which battery was problematic in the most recent 787 incident. If it was the APU (the one that caught fire in Boston) or the ma

    • That made for some horrific reading. I'll be thinking about it all day, thanks.
  • Will not a fire light it up like a briquette?

    Yeah yeah, it's "compressed graphite", or whatever the euphemism is for the material.

  • I survived. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:49PM (#42606789)

    I flew the 787 from Haneda to Frankfurt two weeks ago, and am happy to report the flight was excellent and as far as I can tell I wasn't killed in a fire.

  • I've read that Boeing was intent on outsourcing as much of the design as possible, and even had a catch-phrase: "the product is the process". I've read that in order to clean up the design, they needed to bring in more Boeing engineers. I wonder what extent this is true, and how much of their plane was designed by third parties? With engineering, it's always hardest to get that last fraction of a percent nailed and verified; an exponential more effort for that last few percentage points. I have a friend
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This has nothing to do with outsourcing - under no circumstances would Boeing have made these batteries, and all f them were installed on the Washington State FAL. Nothing to do with outsourcing, nothing to do with unionism.

      • by Pascal Sartoretti (454385) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @04:34PM (#42608159)

        This has nothing to do with outsourcing - under no circumstances would Boeing have made these batteries, and all f them were installed on the Washington State FAL. Nothing to do with outsourcing, nothing to do with unionism.

        Outsourcing in itself is not an issue, as long as you clearly define what you expect, follow up your suppliers, check their processes, their products, etc. All of this takes time, hence money. It can work, but also turn into a nightmare if/when :

        • - Your suppliers themselves subcontract to other suppliers, which in turn...
        • - A stupid PHB slashes costs by "trusting" and not checking the suppliers
        • - Different countries, cultures, languages
  • That's where it's supposed to be. Only when it comes out is there a problem.

  • Poor America, can't make planes like the Europeans. The A380's have had a few problems but not as many in such a small time.

    • by VAXcat (674775)
      Yeah, the DeHaviland Comet airliner was a sterling example of the quality of European aircraft design...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ah, you must mean the first ever commercial jet airliner; which was of course not American. The whole industry learnt lessons from microfractures in stress points in the new aluminium airframes, and after the windows were redesigned it managed to get 30 years of service.

        So what's the US excuse now? Forgot how to build, did we?

        • by VAXcat (674775)
          I was referring more to the way it kept disintegrating in flight, but whatever...
      • by segedunum (883035)

        Yeah, the DeHaviland Comet airliner was a sterling example of the quality of European aircraft design...

        Yes it was considering it was the first jetliner. Someone had to go first and it certainly wasn't the US because they were so far behind.

  • That this is the first aircraft Boeing built that uses outsourced production...

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @04:16PM (#42607947)

    I know the TSA has been doing cavity searches for a long time. But exacuating passengers seems both extreme, and dirty. Shouldn't the world health organization have something to say about this?

    Maybe next time there's an emergency landing, they should consider evacuating the plane, instead of the passengers. Besides, if it's a rough landing, some of the passengers are likely to self-evacuate.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      That was in Japan. They routinely recommend anal suppositories for medication that we usually take oral stuff in the EU/US, such as stuff to bring down fever associated with flu. And yet, they have no TSA.

      So that was a pretty multi-faceted joke of you.

  • by sshir (623215) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @04:37PM (#42608209)
    With internet connection it is much more handy to short Boeing stock on the first whiff of smoke.
  • "If it's Boeing, I ain't going..."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:09PM (#42609593)

    I had worked as an engineer for approximately 30 years. What I have witnessed has disturbed me.

    In the last 10 to 15 years, design decisions that used to be made by engineers have been replaced by cost accountants restricting most decisions of a technical nature and replacing it with "most cost effective solution".

    I did some consulting for a small aero engines company about 15 years ago that had a brilliant concept dreamed up by a non-technical MBA executive to start building aero engines for small aircraft based on race car engines. Reasoning for that is because they are high performance engines. Well d'ohhh that is not what you want in an aero engine, you want reliability & safety as the most important factors. Race car engines need to be rebuilt after every race. Not a desirable attribute for an aero engine.

    Needless to say extensive testing which I was involved with proved that this idea was half baked and it failed. Problem was executive management freaked and were cursing the engineers for destroying their "brilliant idea" and acted in a savage manner to the staff by trashing many of them.

    In many aerospace companies, I have had been involved with have pushed out most experienced staff in favour of young and cheap staff. If I was to guess, I suspect Boeing has done the same thing. I have heard from many experienced colleagues that old technical problems that were resolved decades ago in the aerospace industry are re-emerging due to in-experienced staff and loss of knowledge.

    This shift I suspect contributes in part to many of the issues being experienced in the Dreamliner.

    my two cents

  • I have a very good friend that worked for one of these sub-contractors in Rockford, IL. Heâ(TM)s a brilliant engineer. He told me about the enomous pressure Boeing put on them to complete their work by their deadline. Boeing constantly threatened the sub-contractor with fines. He spent many, many months working 70-80 hour weeks. Getting called into 2am meetings. Careers flamed out because of the stress. Substance abuse ran rampant. Families suffered. I hope no one gets hurt or killed flying on the 787.
  • ... seen for the 787: The Firebird.

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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