Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Part I:Is It Teething Woes? (Updated (2) with Boeing Response)

Boeing and its customers are undergoing what Boeing has classified as "Teething Woes" or are these problems really "Root Canal" surgeries?  The 4,700 plus hours of test flights did not reveal repeated problems like the customer aircraft are now experiencing.

Remember publicized development curses, in general as follows:

Test Stage Short List.

  • Fastener Issues, because lacking supply chain quantities to assemble test aircraft.
  • Fastener Installation Issue of not properly installing correctly or using correct fastener in Charleston
  • Italy had incorrect tail area required extreme shimming remedy.
  • De-lamination issues and corrective shimming procedures
  • Wing Box Area Fixes 
  • Fire in the Electrical (G-spot) on late test flight. (Redesign, six month delay) 
G-spot defined as,  Electrical, Generator, and Battery systems

Customer Stage:

  • ANA and Japan Airline Engine Issues and other squawks
  • United Airlines Electrical Area G-spot(Generator) issues
  • Air India multiple squawks with several operational stand-downs
  • Air India, Parts-Departing From Engine Charleston Airport/grass fire 
  • Qatar G-spot (generator) issue 
  • Japan Airlines Fire in G-spot (battery) operational shut down on aircraft
  • Japan Airline Fuel leakage

Now that about 50 aircraft are delivered; suppliers, Boeing and assembly are into a routine of making the 787. No longer are six months used to push an aircraft out the door. The due diligence cannot convert to negligence.  However these issues, great and small are fixable, and have not yet caused a call-back to the drawing board in a whole-scale level. Engineering changes yes, but no concept changes, that would  be similar to  a major redesign and cause the customer fleet a redo as in the pre-delivery days.  Currently there are about 20 aircraft in change incorporation that are in the process of redo.  These are taking up to an additional two years.  Boeing would be extremely smart to come clean on its status of its early issues. They remain confident of the aircraft.  It is still a brilliant Idea, but I also wonder how many engineers are running down Boeing's hallways with there hair on fire, while "Baghdad Bob" explains, "we are slaughtering the competition in airplane wars." Are these really typical start-up squawks for an A-typical airplane?

Increased complexity increases the squawks, Airbus take note. These are just A-typical squawks for an A-typical airplane going through teething pains that are not routine issues for a new airplane.  An all electric architecture is not typical.  The good news is as follows.  Boeing overbuilt new systems never before employed.  They took the NASA route of multiples for everything until further notice. A test Airplane catches fire in electronics bay during flight over the Rocky Mountains, Boeing just landed later in Texas and found out what went wrong. Safety, redundancy and planning has kept this aircraft flying through the root-canals in its jaw bone.

What is amazing is the safety measures installed on this aircraft.  Bugs are still hitting the wind screen, yet it keeps its passengers safe.  The Dreamliner may be known as the airplane with an Indomitable Spirit.  Forging safely ahead with its all new advances, despite the set-backs.

Boeing top engineer says he's confident 787 is safe

Written by  Media Sources

  • Wednesday, 09 January 2013 17:34

(Reuters) - Boeing Co rolled out the Dreamliner's chief engineer to try to quell concerns about the new jet following three mishaps in as many days, including an electrical fire that caused severe damage to a plane.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the engineer, Mike Sinnett, defended the 787, the world's first plastic plane, and said its problem rates are at about the same level as Boeing's successful 777 jet.
Relatively few technical problems prevent 787s from leaving a gate within 15 minutes of scheduled departure time, he said. "We're in the high 90 percents," he said. "We're right where the 777 program was" at this stage.
The prevalence of more significant issues, such as a battery fire, is in the same order of magnitude as previous programs, he added. "There's no metrics that are screaming at me that we've got a problem."
Sinnett explained in detail how the lithium ion battery system that burned on Monday was designed by his team to be safe and prevent smoke getting into the cabin in the event of a fire during a flight. "I am 100 percent convinced that the airplane is safe to fly," he said.
Asked why smoke entered the cabin on Monday, Sinnett said the plane lacked cabin pressure to expel smoke because it was on the ground. In that scenario, "We expect that there would be sufficient time to evacuate the plane safely," Sinnett said.
The battery fire, on a 787 jet operated by Japan Airlines, occurred in Boston on Monday while the empty plane was parked at a gate after passengers had deplaned. That was followed by a fuel leak on another JAL 787 on Tuesday, and by brake problems on an All Nippon Airways 787 that forced the airline to cancel the flight on Wednesday.
These mishaps represent the most serious test of confidence in the Dreamliner since it began flying customers just over a year ago, following more than three years of delivery delays.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into what caused the fire, which came just weeks after Boeing endured a string of other electrical problems that briefly grounded three of the planes. The new jet also has suffered an engine failure and fuel leaks in the 14 months it has been in service.
Sinnett said the electrical faults that occurred in rapid succession in December were traced to a single lot of circuit boards manufactured at one time. He didn't name the supplier.
Analysts said they did not think regulators would ground the 49 Dreamliner jets currently in service due to this week's incidents, but some expected days or weeks to pass before firm details about the mishaps emerge - making it difficult to assess the severity of the problem, and the cost to fix them.
"It's clear through the conversation (from Sinnett) that it appeared to be manufacturing as opposed to design issues," said Jason Gursky, an analyst at Citigroup in San Francisco. "The fact that we've seen a multitude of small issues crop up and are not seeing the same issue time and time again would support that view."
Further detail from regulators are likely to take more time. In July, regulators took three days to decide whether to launch an investigation of a General Electric engine that failed on a 787, and another week passed before they provided details.
"We'd expect a similar timeline here," said Deutsche Bank analysts Myles Walton and Amit Mehrotra, in a note to clients Wednesday.
Boeing declined to discuss any aspect of the investigation into the battery fire. Analysts said the company still faces an image problem over the build quality of its marquee plane.
"There's no doubt in my mind that on the engineering side they are doing the right thing as far as dealing with these issues," said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and mechanic.
"They need to really reach out strongly with information to the press corps to make sure they understand exactly what happened and exactly what they are doing about it."
Boeing shares closed up 3.5 percent Wednesday, after losing more than 5 percent earlier this week.
Of this week's incidents, the battery fire is of most concern. Lithium-ion batteries are heavily scrutinized by those who use them - not just airlines, but increasingly automakers as well.
"We cool our batteries. We put them through tests like you wouldn't believe," General Motors Chief Executive Dan Akerson said during a roundtable event Wednesday.
Shares of Japan's GS Yuasa Corp, which makes batteries for the 787, fell sharply for a second day on Wednesday.
Before Wednesday, Boeing had said little about the problems, though some of its most critical customers, like the CEO of Qatar Airways, have come to its defense.
Qatar Airways, the largest customer of the Dreamliner in the Middle East with an order for up to 60 of the aircraft, currently has five 787 jets. CEO Akbar al-Baker said the airline had no other issues since noting an electrical problem on one of its jets in December.
"Of course there will be teething problems from time to time, but this is foreseen with any new aircraft program," Al-Baker told reporters at an event in Doha on Wednesday.
Baker said he had no plans at the moment to cancel any plane orders with Boeing. "When we have to start grounding planes, then it becomes an issue and then they (Boeing) have to get their check book out," he said.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York, Tim Hepher in Paris and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit and Deborah Charles in Washington, D.C.; Writing by Alwyn Scott and Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr)
Randy's Journal (Randy Tinseth, VP Boeing)

Update on 787 event in Boston

The 787 has been in the headlines quite a bit this week, and I wanted to take this opportunity to address the incidents at Boston Logan Airport.
First, today’s issue with one of Japan Airlines’ 787s (a different airplane than the one involved in Monday’s incident) was resolved after a four hour delay and the airplane took off for Tokyo.
As for Monday’s incident involving another JAL 787, we’ve been working closely with the airline, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other government agencies. JAL tells us that after the airplane landed and all passengers had disembarked, smoke was detected. The smoke was later traced to the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit.
We can’t talk about any specific details while the investigation is ongoing. But I can tell you that nothing we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events, which involved power panel faults elsewhere in the aft electrical equipment bay. We’ve shared the information about those prior events with the NTSB and they’re aware of the details. Since we want to deal in facts rather than speculation, we’re giving our technical teams time to look over everything. Our full statement is here.
In the meantime, 787s continue to fly all over the world. The airplanes are in service with eight customers— having logged more than 18,000 flight cycles and flown more than 50,000 hours. We have complete confidence in the 787 and vow to take care of any issues our customers are experiencing— day or night.