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Japan Transportation Technology

Dreamliner: Boeing 787 Aircraft Battery "Not Faulty" 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the everything-checks-out dept.
SternisheFan writes "Airline safety inspectors have found no faults with the battery used on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, Japan's transport ministry has said. The battery was initially considered the likely source of problems on 787s owned by two Japanese airlines. The world's entire fleet of 50 787s has been grounded while inspections are carried out. Attention has now shifted to the electrical system that monitors battery voltage, charging and temperature. Transport ministry official Shigeru Takano said 'we have found no major quality or technical problem' with the lithium-ion batteries. Shares in GS Yuasa, which makes the batteries, jumped 5% on the news. 'We are looking into affiliated parts makers,' he said. 'We are looking into possibilities.'"
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Dreamliner: Boeing 787 Aircraft Battery "Not Faulty"

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  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:35PM (#42716893)
    Japanese government agency defending a Japanese company. I wait for a more objective report which I believe is in the pipeline.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:42PM (#42716999)

    The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft on many levels, from features to construction technology to production methods. I would expect there to be unforseen issues resulting from interaction between different systems. What I'm curious about is whether Boeing will get them all sorted out quickly enough...in which case they will be superbly positioned to compete, having mastered the many challenges around making the 787 what it is. If they don't, then they will be in terrible trouble. I feel like I'm watching aeronautical history playing out before my eyes.

    I hope they get it all fixed in time, personally. The 787 is a hell of a plane. Check it out here: http://www.newairplane.com/787/ [newairplane.com]

    I'm not surprised by unforseen issues from the new technology and design (like the fuel leaks that have been reported), I'm quite surprised to see battery problems since they must have already run the batteries and charging system through many thousands of simulated takeoff/landing cycles both in bench tests and while installed in a test airframe.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:43PM (#42717003) Homepage Journal
    All they are really saying is that the chemistry and packaging on the batteries was within spec. Like most lithium battery problems though, the problem is in the control hardware. So really this press release is just telling us something that we already figured out: That the charging circuit for the battery is defective.
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:52PM (#42717119)

    Not entirely surprising, its usually the charger and/or the discharge protection ckts. Ask the RC electric airplane people who have at least a decade or so experience with lithium batteries in airplanes and burning them up. I was into RC planes back when everyone used NiCad but I've kept up with recent events. The batteries themselves rarely burst into flame, they burst into flame when you connect them to something that does something very naughty well outside the limits of the datasheet.

    I think this will probably, in the long run, turn into a "EE ethics and morals class" debate. So discharging 15 amps out of a 10 amp pack results in a 0.001% chance (actually pretty high) of blowing the pack up per the data sheet. However not supplying 15 amps to the engine control system during an alternator malfunction (or whatever) means the engine shuts down and 500 people have a near 100% chance of death. "just follow that datasheet" stuff could kill lots of people, then again "ignore the datasheet" could kill lots of people too. So if you must use lithium batteries (why?), then you can find a local minimum death rate which will not be zero... of course finding that might have to be done via experiment on unwilling crash victims, whole nother ethical issue. Basically, we're trading human life for slightly improved gas mileage, which certainly makes me want to fly on a carrier using airbus products instead of boeing products, which has other ethical issues, etc. Is the ethical/moral failure the managers for doing it despite advice against, the engineers fault for not committing career and economic suicide by refusing to design a lithium aircraft pack, the supplier for making batteries for an unsuitable purpose, the arabs fault for making jet fuel so expensive so we have to kill people with lightweight batteries, ...

    The simplest thing is a battery drop tank arrangement or a rather stout thick wall steel case, making the works heavier than using old fashioned lead acid.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:55PM (#42717153) Homepage

    As opposed to the American company that is heavily supported by the American government telling us the fault must lie with the Japanese batteries it bought. I see where you are coming from.

  • by steelfood (895457) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:59PM (#42717207)

    I was more excited about the A380 myself, but I realize that there's a very small market for such large planes.

    The 787 is using a lot of unproven tech. "Revolutionary" is good when it's built on sound fundamentals. I'm not sure the 787 was built this way. Rather, I suspect it was built on barely-good-enough and laboratory-tested, which are not encouraging signs.

    There's a reason why a lot of civilian technology comes out of military research. Using it in the military will test the technology in the real world to hell and back again (literally, even). And the military can compensate for greater risk of partial or full failure, both by the operators' prior training and greater built in redundancy as a result of a higher price tag that only the military would pay.

    I don't think the technology used in the 787 came out of this system.

  • by deadweight (681827) on Monday January 28, 2013 @02:54PM (#42718023)
    I once tried to put out a burning SOLAS flare and no amount of throwing crap on it would work. It was kind of embarrassing so I threw it over the side and then the fkn thing is burning UNDERWATER and producing all kinds of smoke and steam PLUS lighting the water up bright red. No.....nothing going on here......oops...
  • Re:Carpet! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2013 @03:43PM (#42718589)

    It did. Not because the carpet was actually at fault, but it's less costly to recall a bazillion floor mats than to tell the customers a truth they don't want to hear: that the crashes were mostly the fault of panicked drivers frantically stomping on the accelerator.

    Japan: still the undisputed world champions at face-saving.

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