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787 Dreamliner On Fire Again 246

Posted by Soulskill
from the hot-topic dept.
Antipater writes "It looks like there's more trouble afoot for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner: London's Heathrow Airport was shut down for over an hour as fire crews attended to a 'suspected fire' on a Dreamliner owned by Ethiopia Airlines. 'Aerial pictures of the scene on the U.K.'s Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire. The aircraft was not blocking either runway, but with all the airport's fire crews tackling the Boeing 787 incident, authorities were forced to suspend departures and arrivals because of safety rules.'"
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787 Dreamliner On Fire Again

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  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:44PM (#44263085) Journal

    "Well, I was pretty sure I smelled smoke!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:46PM (#44263109)

    Sad how one badly designed subsystem can take down an entire product.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      I wonder if it's the battery again... if it is, that's not exactly a small subsystem.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:14PM (#44263397)

        I think he means the airport.

        If a single fire means they can't do landings and takeoffs that seems like a poor design. It sounds like an easy thing for trouble makers to exploit

        • by xaxa (988988)

          I think he means the airport.

          If a single fire means they can't do landings and takeoffs that seems like a poor design. It sounds like an easy thing for trouble makers to exploit

          LHR didn't have snowploughs available a couple of years ago (it's not that common for it to snow here, but the other London airports all had the necessary equipment).

          However, there are only two runways, and they only have one plane landing at a time, so enough firemen to cope with one plane on fire doesn't seem unreasonable. For something bigger (plane crashing into the terminal building?) the normal fire brigade would presumably help.

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:24PM (#44263513)

            I merely meant that one worker with a smoke bomb now knows he can shut down LHR whenever he thinks it would benefit him or those he allies himself with.

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              I merely meant that one worker with a smoke bomb now knows he can shut down LHR whenever he thinks it would benefit him or those he allies himself with.

              a mere telephone call would suffice so why bother with a smoke bomb?

              • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Friday July 12, 2013 @03:24PM (#44264145)

                Yes, it is surprisingly easy to shut down a major airport. They will probably catch you, but it would be an interesting form of non-violent terrorism.

                It is really lucky that terrorist organizations aren't very clever.

                Dear NSA,
                despite the use of the word "terrorism", I have no intention of violating US laws in order to influence US politics. I'm just using what little remains of my first amendment rights to make a political comment on US policies on terrorism.

        • by sjames (1099) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:26PM (#44263535) Homepage

          Actually it's a good design. They could have remained open and at full capacity during this incident BUT since the fire crews and equipment were busy, their policy is to shut down to avoid the risk of a second incident and no way to respond to it.

          Since fires and other rescue situations aren't terribly common, the fire crew is just standing by most of the time. Having 1 crew standing by most of the time and another nearly all of the time wouldn't be very practical.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            I did not suggest that as a fix.

            It is a design. The first question I have is what was the cost of all this? It might well have been cheaper to have some London firefighters trained and ready to call in if needed for something like this. Paying overtime for a crew of firefighters might have been cheaper than the downtime.

            • It might well have been cheaper to have some London firefighters trained and ready to call in if needed for something like this.

              And in a genuine emergency, like when two planes crash simultaneously or the fire speads outside the airport they might do that.

              Note that when the crashes are separated in time that's not a genuine emergency, because the second was avoidable by telling it to wait or fuck off somewhere else.

              Paying overtime for a crew of firefighters might have been cheaper than the downtime.

              Might sc

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                I would love to calculate, but I have no idea about the costs of the outage.

                The problem with even guessing at them is that the airport and airlines externalize these costs onto the customer in ways most operations could only dream of. If a restaurant canceled my dinner 3 times and delayed it 4 times I would never go there again. With airlines I can't even try to do that. I have tried to avoid some airlines for years, yet I still get forced onto them due to schedule changes and the like. So I can buy a Lufth

                • by icebike (68054)

                  I would love to calculate, but I have no idea about the costs of the outage.

                  The problem with even guessing at them is that the airport and airlines externalize these costs onto the customer in ways most operations could only dream of. If a restaurant canceled my dinner 3 times and delayed it 4 times I would never go there again. With airlines I can't even try to do that. I have tried to avoid some airlines for years, yet I still get forced onto them due to schedule changes and the like. So I can buy a Lufthansa ticket and end up on a Delta flight, even if I am trying to avoid Deliver Everyone's Luggage To Atlanta.

                  The way we attribute the cost of delays is pretty asinine.

                  Basically they take and average salary times the number of people who might have been inconvenienced times X hours of delay and add it all up
                  and assign the whole number to this incident. Never mind the fact that the delay never costs most people a dime, because there is no
                  way to schedule your flights and connections with zero wait time.

                  If the same accounting method were used to price everything in the world your average glass of water would include

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    Sure, but the airlines method of saying it cost $0, since the flight took off 12 hours later and they kept rescheduling every 2 hours to avoid even handing out beverages is just as bad.

                    I have definitely had costs associated with delays, extra days worth of airport parking, food, missed work, toiletries I had to purchase, etc. That toiletries one does not happen anymore since I put the critical stuff in carryon now.

            • It might well have been cheaper to have some London firefighters trained and ready to call in if needed for something like this.

              That's already part of the policy and that is what happened. It may have allowed operations to resume earlier than otherwise.

              Paying overtime for a crew of firefighters might have been cheaper than the downtime.

              If you want this argument to be plausible, you should go quantitative. My guess is that the people setting the policies spent more time thinking about this than you did,
              used quantitative analysis, and are competent.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                I would not be surprised if that was true. Welcome to slashdot, clearly you are new here.

            • by geniice (1336589)

              London firefighters are public sector. Airport group won't be.

            • by Kingston (1256054)
              LFB attend all significant incidents as Heathrow, as they did today [london-fire.gov.uk]. LFB has extra appliances and manpower available at all the stations surrounding Heathrow, including Ruislip, Hayes and Hillingdon and can call on appliances from across London and neighbouring fire authorities. The shutdown today was not due to a lack of resources.
            • The cost is HUGE. But the city firefigters won't be able to attend an emergency on time. Household fires need more time to grow, and houses are easier to escape, but there is an enourmous area that may get on fire - city firefighters have completely different priorities, and also different equipment.

              I was in the team in charge of defining wich brazilian airports should have firefighting service once. That cost is a constant preocupation while doing policy. (Another peocupation is whether the airport firefig

  • The problems began when Boeing sent them the new, improved 787C version.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:59PM (#44263249)

    Whistleblower Michael Leon warned of this in 2006:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/100406310

    And for that he was terminated and his career ruined. Too bad management never wants to listen.

    • by istartedi (132515) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:30PM (#44263587) Journal

      I have a fantastic plan to sell little electronic fingers that you put in your ears. They have speakers in them and play, "La-la-la-la-la...". What? Not a sound business model? I can't hear you.

    • Terminated eh? "Sky News?" More like "SKYNET!!!!"

      (This would have been a better formulated joke, but my boss is coming)
  • by BemoanAndMoan (1008829) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:00PM (#44263261)

    Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire.

    But there is! Scorch marks on the roof in front of the tail section.

    Check it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23295115 [bbc.co.uk] [bbc video feed]

    • confirming for the bandwidth challenged. Also firefighting foam on the pavement.

      There are interesting longitudinal lines across the scorched area - is the composite body laid down in strips?

      • by Amouth (879122)

        There are interesting longitudinal lines across the scorched area - is the composite body laid down in strips?

        I can say the answer to that is yes, the shell is made up in a crosshatch

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Or maybe the air-skin pulled over some "ribs"? I'm not an aerospace engineer, dunno what they're called. Still, I wonder what is kept exactly there that would have caught fire. I guess we'll find out eventually. Or not.
      • by khallow (566160)

        There are interesting longitudinal lines across the scorched area - is the composite body laid down in strips?

        I understand that the body itself is formed in rings and glued together in a row. The photo I'm looking at seems to show the scorch marks near the beginning of the tail fin. I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing laid down a bunch of strips to improve the structural integrity of that area and perhaps to streamline the aircraft a bit.

      • Yes the composite skin is laid down in strips, but that's not what that is - that's the ribs and stringers that go together to form the internal fuselage structure, which is bonded to the skin to give it rigidity.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire.

      But there is! Scorch marks on the roof in front of the tail section.

      Check it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23295115 [bbc.co.uk] [bbc video feed]

      I assume some people can't access the video, or would prefer not to: http://imgur.com/DSuowjU [imgur.com]

    • by icebike (68054)

      Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire.

      But there is! Scorch marks on the roof in front of the tail section.

      Check it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23295115 [bbc.co.uk] [bbc video feed]

      That location is above the in-flight food service area.

      The batteries are located in the tail below the floor, and you notice that the door way to that area was opened, but there is no sign of smoke or fire damage there.

      There is no route for flame from the battery compartment to the roof of the plane.
      So I'm guessing the food service equipment caught fire, and it had nothing to do with the batteries.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Ahhh... Where is the APU in this thing? I'm thinking that they usually are in the tail in large aircraft, but I'm just a software engineer not a pilot or avionics engineer.

      APU in tail puts a lot of electrical cables, hot air ducts and fuel lines along side control cables, hydraulic lines and such. APU's provide ground power and air conditioning, compressed air for engine starting along with electrical power. There is a large power distribution infrastructure just under where the fire seems to have cause

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:01PM (#44263277)

    Should have stuck with the Japanese manufacturers. Caucasians are too tall and gangly. Asians are shorter and closer to the electronic parts, and therefore can see them better.

  • >> all the airport's fire crews tacking the Boeing 787 incident Send ALL the crews? :\
  • but there were no signs of fire.

    To clarify, I think the submitter means no sign of fire still burning now. The BBC pointed out fire damage on the roof just forward of the tail.

    Also:

    as fire crews attended to a 'suspected fire'

    No, it definitely was an actual fire! I don't know where this quote comes from (it's not in either of the articles now).

  • It looks like the fire damage on the roof of the plane is right above where they keep the rear battery.. The battery is kept below, so, I'm not sure if the fire could spread to the top of the plane. This would be very embarrassing if it's the battery again. They were suppose to be replaced with safer, fire proof cases and other improvements. After dealing with RC lipo batteries, I can say they are real difficult to charge and keep. I always assume they could catch fire at any time. Really not the th
  • I am wondering if the batteries fail from constant pressure changes. Its not like laptops or phones get pressure cycled like an airplane would. The LiIon batteries passengers carry are usually in the pressurized cabin. Are there any Li-Ion applications that do pressure cycle like a plane?
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      I don't think this is an issue. Most batteries are not made of compressible materials or materials that have low boiling points so I seriously doubt that the pressure changes experienced during normal commercial flights are a problem. Now if you have a battery with air pockets or fluids that boil easily, you might have a concern. I don't think any of this is true for LiIon batteries. If there was a concern, I'm sure Boeing was required to demonstrate that their batteries where capable of taking the press

  • Just a reminder - Boeing 787 is a very advanced aircraft not only because of that carbon fiber thingy, but also because they've swapped almost all actuators from hydraulic to electrical ones - that's new (first?) for civilian aircraft. Electric generators are sitting right on engines shafts (so no bleeding == more fuel efficient design).

    As a result Boeing is still chasing all the electrical (and tightly tied to them computer) bugs. Not very surprising that is.
  • by photonic (584757) on Friday July 12, 2013 @03:26PM (#44264169)
    Looks like Boeing went down [yahoo.com] about 7% when the news broke ...
  • http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2013387936_787emergency10.html

    Seems that Boeing has a serious problem with recurring issues on the 787 dreamliner. First the three battery fires, now with the rear electronics bay catching fire twice now.

    I sure hope the two incidents are NOT related or the FAA is going to have to pull these aircraft out of service again. That would be very bad given we've spent about the same time grounded as actually in service.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Friday July 12, 2013 @03:54PM (#44264453)

    Whatever this issue is, it's a different problem. This fire occurred near the tail of the aircraft near the crew rest area. The batteries in question were in the avionics bay near the front.

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