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 …

ATU Pressures Congress to Mandate Overtime Pay for Intercity Bus Drivers; Avoids Key Issues

Greyhound coach busIt’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. The union insists the exemption allows bus companies to exploit drivers, who become susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel. Yet evidence suggests the union, in seeking more compensation for members, is avoiding key facts.

Buses remain a highly popular means of transportation in this country. According to the U.S. Department …

Dreamliner Flies, But Doubts Persist About Boeing’s Batteries

battery photoNow 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.

“I’ll tell you, Jim,” said Smisek, as recounted by the Associated Press, “it was a fairly expensive piece of sculpture to have on the ground, so we’re really delighted to have it up and flying.”

That’s not to say the Dreamliners are fixed. As NLPC reported last month, Boeing’s engineers don’t know what caused the fires in the first place, thus they can’t be …

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 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 …