It 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.”
It's a common news story these days: A bus on the highway crashes, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. And the official cause is "driver fatigue." Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., backed by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the AFL-CIO, has a bill, the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act (S.487), to reduce such tragedies by extending the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay provisions to intercity bus drivers. For over 50 years the Department of Transportation has precluded overtime laws from applying to such travel. The ATU in recent weeks has stepped up pressure for passage of the bill, unveiled last March.
Now that Boeing has placed most of its 787s back into service, including those in United Airlines’ fleet, executives with both corporations are putting a happy face on the expensive hardship that was caused by the four-month grounding of the planes due to fire hazard risks.
United reinstated the so-called Dreamliners on May 20, when United CEO Jeff Smisek and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney hopped a flight from Houston to Chicago to show the troubles with the plane’s lithium ion batteries were behind them.
"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.
The 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.