FAA Warning Raises More Questions About Boeing Batteries

Boeing 787 DreamlinerIt appears – two years after Boeing had fire incidents from installed lithium ion batteries that shut down deliveries of its vaunted Dreamliner 787 – that its “solution” to “vent” heat and flames outside the aircrafts has prevented any catastrophes, so far.

But it hasn’t alleviated concerns about the batteries’ physics and makeup. Last week Boeing issued a warning to its airline customers to not carry bulk shipments of lithium-ions because if they catch fire or overheat, they’re unstoppable. A spokesman told the Associated Press that the manufacturer has advised airlines not to transport the batteries “until safer methods of packaging and transport are established and implemented.” Likewise, the FAA simultaneously stated that its research has found that carriage of lithium ion batteries “presents a risk.”

The alert was industry-wide. At a safety forum held last week in Washington by the Air Line Pilots Association, Boeing’s fire protection system specialist …

Boeing: Cause of Dreamliner Fires ‘Almost Doesn’t Matter’

battery photo“Attention ladies and gentlemen, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will depart shortly – any potential fires caused by our lithium ion batteries will now be contained within the aircraft. Please line up at the gate for imminent boarding!”

Are you ready?

In case you missed it the Federal Aviation Administration, by publishing an Airworthiness Directive in the Federal Register last week, opened the door for the troubled “green” aircraft to return to service in the coming months. The document lays out the specifications required for Boeing to get the extremely costly project moving again, if the changes are implemented and FAA inspectors sign off.

But don’t call it a “fix,” because engineers don’t know what caused the fires in the first place. Boeing’s top engineer Michael Sinnett says the new configuration is designed to prevent a fire (the old one wasn’t??), according to the Associated Press, but even if …

Boeing Woes Balloon as Battery Fix Remains a Mystery

Boeing 787 DreamlinerWould you be willing to fly on a newly developed jumbo airliner with battery technology that has been known to cause fires, whose exact cause is still unknown, but whose manufacturer has claimed to find a temporary “fix” that would allegedly contain –but not prevent – future flaming flights?

Boeing bets you would. Airbus bets you wouldn’t.

On Sunday the Seattle Times reported that Boeing might propose a plan as early as this week to get the troubled Dreamliner airborne again, after two incidents involving fires with the jet’s sizable lithium ion battery packs shut down all 50 of the units now in service. The rumored remedy doesn’t appear to be an actual repair of the volatile battery itself, but instead “includes a heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box around the battery cells” and high-pressure tubes to vent dangerous gases outside the fuselage in case of what engineers call “thermal …

Lobbying Muscle and Green Agenda Blinded Boeing to Reality

Boeing 787 DreamlinerWith the revelation that All Nippon Airways replaced defective lithium ion batteries 10 times, Japan Air Lines replaced “quite a few,” and United Airlines replaced “multiple batteries,” in the months preceding the smoke emergency that grounded their Dreamliners, is there anything that can be said about the technology that can overcome its now-horrible reputation?

Boeing has worked on the 787 for 10 years or so, with an ample amount of time to determine what kind of battery technology would be functional with the “super-efficient” jet with “exceptional environmental performance.” Had the Chicago-based manufacturer –and its airline customers – concerned themselves more with achievable plans that built on proven fossil-fuel designs and economic sensibility rather than appeasement of environmental activists, and the accompanying millions of dollars in government subsidies for such, they might not be burning through millions of dollars in costs and lost productivity due to idle airplanes …

Boeing Battery Quick Fix May Be Elusive

battery photoThe crisis that has enveloped Boeing over the grounded Dreamliner, at a cost of billions of dollars in losses in addition to what has already been “invested” in it  — voluntarily by its owner/investors and coercively from taxpayers – exemplifies perhaps more than any other redistributionist corporatism scheme why government intervention is more headache than help.

Pass the industrial-strength Excedrin.

Of immediate concern to the Chicago-based jet-manufacturer is the lithium-ion battery that powers so many of the 787’s critical functions. Two instances of “thermal runaway” on Dreamliners’ owned by Japan-based airlines caused that country, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, to suspend their use pending investigations. Other flaws since July such as cracked engines, damaged cockpit windows, and fuel leaks have compounded concerns.

But the scare factor surrounding the battery is the biggest deal.

“This is an unprecedented event,” said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation …

Boeing’s Green Dreamliner Costs the Company, Customers and Taxpayers

Boeing 787 DreamlinerSeemingly endless government subsidies and the impetus to “go green” have made a mockery yet again of those who direct their business toward pleasing politicians and activist groups rather than delivering quality products built upon a proven history of performance.

Such is the case with Boeing’s troubled – and now grounded – Dreamliner.

The much-delayed 787 is supposed to be “a super-efficient airplane.” Designed (so Boeing says) in response to airlines’ demands for an energy-saving transport, the Dreamliner provides “unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance.” Boeing claims it uses 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized planes, in part by making it lighter by using composite materials for 50 percent of the primary structure, including the fuselage and wing. According to Popular Science, the Dreamliner is 80-percent composite “by volume.”

But the main problem Boeing has with the Dreamliner – which has led airlines …

Appeals Court Upholds New National Mediation Board Rule

Northwest Airlines strikeOne of the defining features of union activism during the Obama years has been a heavy reliance on federal agencies and courts to do things that Congress isn’t likely to do, especially now that Republicans hold a majority in the House. Sometimes merely waiting for the right ruling can pay off. On December 16, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the National Mediation Board (NMB), an independent body overseeing labor relations in the railroad and airline industries, had the authority to issue a rule change making it easier for unions to win representation elections. The court concluded that the new regulation was consistent with the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), an industry group which since has renamed itself Airlines for America, had sued the board in May 2010 and lost in district court the following month.

Union …