Monday, April 29, 2013

April, A Month Where Fools Fear To Tread

April closes in a rush with the Boeing call of: "Pilots start your engines". It started out with the FAA and Boeing in a holding pattern, waiting for a preponderance of evidence for installing a new battery solution. The Blog topics were chosen to follow a variety of important Boeing issues going forward. Blog features in chronological order month of April.

Topical List in Chronological order:

April 10 - 787  Progressions to Profit

"Boeing is at that crossroad on the 787 gamble. It will stay all in and ride it out, because that is the only way it can win. The investors know it and have responded as Boeing’s stock has elevated during the last three months. Airbus has backed off of Lithium-ion where it will add some weight, lose some battery performance and avoid a timetable crunch to get the A350 airborne."

By End of Month, all-in on the Battery, where the company has delayed 787 profitability some months. But barring any further battery mishaps, Boeing will catch back up by end of year. What they lose will be the public level of interest and trust from the ticket counter to the boardroom. Secondly it loses momentum and delays profitability from added cost to the program. This condition pushes out the break even point in units, affecting the date it takes for reaching break even in additional months. Break even cost are up and units needed to meet those cost increase because of total Battery fix costs. Making it a break even date an additional year. I would now suggest 2017 for Break even instead of late  2015.

Example if this mishap cost Boeing another billion dollars to fix how many airplanes extra must they now produce before making a profit and how long will that take in the profitability progression?  Also not lost is the idea this cost will be spread out over follow-on models not yet flying such as the 787-9,10 and 777X. Depending how accountants want to retire this fail will show up on future bottom lines.

April 14-Boeing Double Downs On The Battery

“Boeing has to identify and properly mitigate the risks to the FAA’s satisfaction,” Hersman said. Lifting the grounding “really is up to the FAA.”

Boeing stands pat on its battery bet with the FAA, and raises the chip pot by putting "All of Boeing", in on that bet. It is confident, that a solution is before the FAA, and will let it ride. Many meetings from the Board of Directors, Engineering and suppliers were held to reach this point. Everyone assented yes, on the all-in call and didn't blink. The FAA was handed this position. They agreed eventually, and didn't blink.  Airbus Blinked and changed its battery package.

April 16th, ETOPS, The Wick On Boeings Lamp.

"The battery issue is tied to FAA ETOPS evaluation, in that ETOPS is an intermediate control mechanism for the 787 long route service for which it was designed. The FAA can turn that wick back from 330 minutes, 180, or 120 minutes."

It now looks like that FAA will cautiously move the goalpost to 330 minutes, since it has now approved the battery fix. By the end of the month FAA, will essentially focus on validating 180 minutes. 180 minutes is the status quo and 330 is the brave new limit. New Zealand Air needs this 330 minute ETOPs when receiving its first 787-9.  The Boeing Co. needs the FAA completing this certification before the 787 -9's delivery into service, which would help New Zealand routes, and fulfill the 787-9's purpose.  This has rapidly become a non issue of Boeing's current barriers, but they still must go through the ETOP certification, before they are out of the woods.

Just because I said so doesn't make it right. It was April 19th after-all. FAA was busy keeping the hounds off its backs answering questions of why they went along with Boeing's sophistry in the workplace.  Boeing, the leading expert in Lithium-ion aircraft batteries did not have a standard for the unknown and did not foresee a battery meltdown not unlike the computer battery meltdowns that happened ten years earlier with Lithium-ion Battery technology. So, during 2007, FAA and Boeing signed off on the unknown together in a symbolic gesture towards battery failure. However, since then we now have: a fireproof box; A toxic exhaust system, and lower voltage regulation. Because only two of the 787 batteries smoked and burned out of fifty, Boeing removed this threat of smoking and burning. The did not remove the threat of battery failure because they could ever find the root cause. However (one more time for the pause), that is a moot point, because the airplane can fly sufficiently, no matter where its found on Google Maps or whenever a battery microwaves itself on the planet. It guarantees the 787 lands at its scheduled destination when it comes to battery problems. That is why the FAA signed off. The 330 minutes ETOP needs to go through an FAA procedure of certification, before everyone else will know all is well, when flying to New Zealand. The Fire department of Boeing clears the Battery with FAA. They say, "The fire can't happen, but battery failure could. Fire and smoking is far worse than battery failure." FAA agrees!

Program Generally 
Stable but 
Improvements in 
Managing Schedule 
Are Needed

Omission Statement: 

Ever had a writers block with some really good stuff out there for a blog but no ambition for writing about it. The battery stuff really gets old, so I posted (not wrote about it) about my favorite "Boeing Step Child". The KC-46, the project nobody writes about (Omission font.) 

Blurred Vision Statement: Convoluted Version of Vision Staetment

"Never forget, keep the eye on the military and Be Boeing", So, I had to go back to December of 2012 and reach into the GAO playbook. After all I'm keeping the main thing, the main thing, the main thing, with the blurred Vision Statement. 

The White Space Filler On Demand Agency(WSFODA) represents the Federal Government on numerical data, processes, procedures and metrics. Its a good read for people sick about aerospace. I actually read it, since it filled time up, before the next battery failure posting came along, and besides it refreshed me how government is spending money during the sequestration."

The KC-46 GAO review reached out and touched my auditing genes. They found Boeing spending too much rainy day money, way before the Boeing project can start building an airframe, and they spent this amount,before its meeting with a Government scheduled July 2013 block point review.

However (again), the GAO found Boeing executing the low cost method of using, an existing airframe with new technology in a military application (AEAWNTIAMA), well on course as expected. This is a new way that military spending is controlled, by the government implementing its new methodology on projects that is unnecessarily susceptible for having cost runaways, as compared to its old method when using a clean sheet on every project with unproven design points and deep government pockets. This method is supposed to mitigate the dreaded cost over run and place the risk on the contractor , like Boeing. But what if the DOD changes need during the contract. There is always a plan B, and Boeing has just spent its way through plan B before July. The GAO is patting itself on the back saying it works and Boeing is doing well on this project, except it has exhausted its mad money or Plan B, way too soon, spending it on technology change items at the recommendations from DOD and putting it in Boeing's never mind trash can. The KC-46 is on track early and is expected to meet its benchmarks with no surprises. Boeings fixed cost, so far is doing fine, and it should come in on time and under Boeing's costs proposal. Don't expect tinted windows in the cargo area.

30 teams and 84 fixes on the battery. It will happen and the Boeing 787 will fly once again because these AOG teams will make it so! After all, it's not GAO!

Are you going as a fly or fly swatter? The 2013 airshow very few are talking about in the news but its coming up in July. Time to buy tickets get  travel authorization, and all those busy items finalized through some administrative assistant's help while you concentrate on how stuff a bag that fits in an overhead bin.

Don't forget these items.

  • Cell phone/camera and a small hand held computer type device
  • Fly swatter
  • A Friend tag along, for not looking stupid like you are when talking to yourself. 

Be the Fly on the wall.                                  Swat at those pesky Neophytes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is skipped, since the whimsical department has not come back from its office party and they couldn't write a summary even if over-served coffee.

April Summary: It's been a soap opera for Boeing where the FAA finally came out and said, "Scarlet, Frankly my dear, I don't give a...". 

And Al Boeing Gore replied, "It's in a lock box and the key is thrown away."

LiftnDrag Battery research articles

Wired Feature

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Headlines...."Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hired For Root Cause Battery Fix"

Its been awhile since all the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty's battery back together again, so Boeing called in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to solve the root cause of Boeing's battery failure, fire and function. This was a mock press conference held today in London England shortly before BA will receive its first 787 in the next few months. Here are some quotes from his press conference regarding the Case of the Failing Flaming Battery. First off I have noted that if another battery fails or flames, its a no worry case, since the appropriate Battery Case has been installed during this case. Venting is now open to the environment outside the airplane, and plan B is fully functional. Plan C will function in case of Plan B failure.

The press conference notes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his actual statements found in literature:

LnD Blogger: "Sir, why hasn't a Root Cause been found?"

Doyle: "Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old loves are the worst."

LnD Blogger: "How do you propose to solve the case?"

Doyle: "Our ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature."

LnD Blogger: "The battery works in some cases and then it had an epic fail in a couple of cases, Why?"

Doyle: "It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

LnD Blogger: "How can you solve this case using FAA Data?"

Doyle: "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data."

LnD Blogger: "Sir Doyle, what do you bring to the table to solve this case?"

Doyle: "My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation."

LnD Blogger: "Will you be talking to the FAA?"

Doyle: "Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person."

LnD Blogger: "You have a warehouse full of records, how will you get through it before the end of the decade?"

Doyle: "You will, I am sure, agree with me that... if page 534 only finds us in the second chapter, the length of the first one must have been really intolerable."

LnD Blogger: How will you approach finding the problem with the battery"

Doyle: As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after.

LnD Blogger: "Can you tell me what Boeing engineers have revealed to you about the Battery?"

Doyle: "Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them."

LnD Blogger: "Sir Doyle can you take one more question before you start your investigation?"

Doyle: I am remiss not answer your question at this time, but a higher calling for tea and things beckons me to begin my investigation. Thank you for affording this opportunity of laying out my investigative resources with you. Good day!"

Okay, I believe Boeing should've hired this guy last February, not that they would have had a root cause in hand, but the FAA would have to up its game when dealing with this problem. The fantasy world of fiction is so much easier to deal with than reality.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Paris Air Show - Paper, Plastic, or Aluminum For Your Purchases

Things and stuff about the Paris Air Show I want to learn.

Paper Exposition or the 777X

Go to Paris and find out about this paper Airplane called the 777X. So far
its folded and flown around drafting rooms on electronic screens, However, its currently flying the world incognito, as a 777-300 or 200. I give it an Exclusive LnD Fly on The wall rating of:

Three Flies,which is the highest rating, you need to be there camped out at the Boeing Pavillion. You need three items: a camp chair, camera, and cup holder. I assume people with have standard equipment in backpacks, recorders or other ancillary products for documentation. This is all a show and tell extravaganza of paper and paper products regarding the 777X. However, as much paper thrown about the room, in the form of paper airplanes, spit wads and crumbled up paper balls, this story will have legs at the Paris Paper Airplane Airshow. Look for more preliminary announcements on the 777X, maybe even an announced featured first customer along with a Boeing Authority to offer the X plane.  If Boeing can pull this stunt off it means, they are really busy beyond belief on the 777X, because they feel they have a winner. If not, I have been duped into believing my own sensibilities and recoil with the dreaded Fly Swatter.

Plastic Exposition or  Known as the 787 vs The A350 show and tell.

Plastic is the new light bulb. Get rid of your old Edison filament bulb as mandated by manufacturer talking points. Battery talk will hold a Back Slapping Ball at the Boeing and Airbus pavilions.  One will proudly exclaim we are all about safety, and have mitigated any risk, and did the right thing. The other will smartly state we are safer because we are using proven technology to make the biggest and best airplane in the size matters wars. I would not expect to take my lawn chair at that event and camp overnight. It is a walk-up feature to fill you swag bag of complementary plastic items appreciated by fans of a particular airframer. If you want a big event photo, take your picture near somebody important here, or go to the press conference as bragging about new orders begins. What can Boeing say that it already hasn't said before. Its more of a pep rally venue for plastic. Airbus will roll out "the mouth pieces", and talk once again about size matters and sing one more chorus of "How Great Thou Art" on the A380 and the new upcoming A350-1000. Boeing innovates innovation and Airbus wants so much to be "Big Man on Campus" with its own follow on minion swooning over every Airbus comment.

Boeing Plastic Exposition (one Fly)        Airbus Plastic Exposition (one fly)
                                 If John Leahy Keeps Talking I will Just Skip It and swat at it.


Aluminum Exposition:

Now we are talking, about the little engine that could. Plastic is for, well you know, the Yuppies. The Aluminum news is like getting in on the new camping cookware and survival food. You buy it because you need it, but you don't necessarily enjoy the experience, like you do flying on a plastic cruiser. The news is in Boeing's court for 2013, for the Max. Just because I am a loyal fan of this American manufactured (for the most part) aircraft doesn't mean I don't look at the Airbus A320 developments. I just don't comment on it because its not in my own area of interest. I save that for my European Neophytes who should embellish that product. So I remain the embellishment of  Boeing's Dream.

Digression over, back to the Max: This is a wiley aircraft not to be underestimated. That is why I would want to bring a buddy, as a fellow fly on the wall, with me to the show. The Max will have updates, promises and some realities exposed to those "fly's", if they position themselves into the correct corner of the room. Models are put out in central areas. Its not paper, since it has orders and its not plastic, well its a new generation flying aluminum. Its not a 787 or 777 technology but will borrow, steal or walk-off quietly with those secrets, from its sibling stable mates. Therefore, it is at the crossroad from Paper to Aluminum in 2013. Thats why I want to bring a friend along for saying, "cool", without looking like a fool talking to myself. This will be a friend friendly environment where sharing talk is fashionable. The 737 moment is rapidly approaching, "an apex of its aspirations", and you want to be there to see it. Possibly you will find out newsworthy stuff and other blogger friendly facts. I would look forward to see how its harnessing 787 synergy with Max innovation. The proposed 737 Max is going to be a lighter more fuel efficient, and carrying more passengers than the Neo. How is Boeing going to do it, Then go to Paris and find out.

Boeing MAX Aluminum Pavillion (Two Flies need to be there)

Fly Swatters Will Be Ushered Out at this pavillion.

2013 Paris Airshow Links Start here and more below!

Paris Air Show Is Sold Out; Big Names Are Coming

June 17-23, 2013 Le Bourget, Paris, France   A good link to get latest PDF content when it loads its PDF updates.

List of Exhibitors - 2013 same source found in above link.

Paris Air Show Fly On The Wall Map

Sunday, April 21, 2013

You Want A Challenge? Then Become An AOG Guy During Boeing's Retrofit Arama Days!

Retrofit fit Days are upon us as we wait for the 2nd First Flights for the 787's . Some of you may wonder about the one airplane fixed per four day cycle that's is going to return the airplane into the air. On Friday April 19, "the return to air switch" was thrown, causing a deployment of 10 Boeing teams, kits and locations matching up with its aircraft, the 787 in various locations. Some are in Seattle, but the road warrior aircraft of its customers are stopped in its tracks around the world, and it will get the lion share of the AOG's service teams. This is only a scratching the surface part of the effort. The behind the scenes effort by airlines is now switched on as well.

JAL and ANA need to update 787 pilots on aircraft skills, maintenance teams training, and the ancillary flight crews abilities to answer questions and make the customers extremely confident in traveling on the 787. None of this could have occurred in advance of the FAA announcing that it validated a battery fix for the systems involved. The following is a brief below this introduction, is inserted from Boeing's website on what the AOG has for its things-to-do plan. It is now into a third day since April 19, and the 10 teams are nearing a stage for the first 10 airplanes for a handover to its operators and customers. They will shortly be going airborne with customer tests and familiarization of systems. These customer tests will impart, do double duty of training crews with the updates and refining its pilots flying skills on the 787. Finally,  further observing reliability for the system changes.

By the end of May most of the Aircraft will be retrofitted with the new Battery system. Some will begin to carry passengers for revenue miles. By the end of June, the Works -In -Progress 787's, at Boeing's respective factories will roll into the sky. These are a total of about 34. Maybe a half dozen a week depending on customer readiness for receiving an aircraft. In total there are 50 aircraft with customers needing the retrofit and about 34 at Everett and Charleston awaiting kits; B-1 flights and other final steps, after the systems are live. Then the customers need to come for them when ready.  This total of 84 787's will be flying with customers by end of August. By the end of the year there will be over 100 787's flying.

Timeline analysis:
Number of days projected times before all backlog and customer aircraft fly in service; 4 days for each cycle times 10 teams = or about 34 working days for retrofit not counting time off or travel time relocating to next project. 84X 4 days= 336 days of work divided by 10 teams = 33.6 calendar days in a straight line of time not including the above mentioned non production days that is necessary for any task. Middle of June should have a good idea of what to expect with deliveries and return to service. I just hope the GAO doesn't get involved, but since it is not a military thing it, will remain AOG guys.

Boeings AOG 101:

Supporting our airline customers, on-site and real-time. (Boeing Link To AOG article below)

For Boeing's Aircraft-on-Ground Team, known as AOG, unplanned trips in support of customers all over the world are a routine part of the job.  Consisting of advisors, engineers and mechanics who are experts in their fields, the AOG teams frequently fly to airline customers around the world to get their airplanes back in the air and in service.

AOG teams have unique capabilities allowing them to perform on-site, comprehensive and integrated modifications to return airplanes to service.  Such capabilities include:
·       On-site technical support to recover Boeing airplanes.
·       Consultation on appropriate recovery equipment and methods for the customer's operations.
·       Airplane recovery documents that provide critical information such as lifting, tethering, transporting, and other needed data to recover Boeing-manufactured airplanes.
·       Training on aircraft recovery and establishing an airplane recovery team.

AOG team members take on the challenge with the same professionalism and determination for which they are known. Like all of Boeing, the team considers the safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes as their highest priority.

Before the AOG teams could begin retrofitting the grounded 787s, however, some of the unique parts had to be made. That’s where the Boeing Fabrication team came in. At Auburn, Washington, U.S.A., and other sites, they fashioned numerous parts including the new stainless steel battery enclosure to contain the airplane’s improved batteries in the electronic equipment bays. The Fabrication team then shipped the parts to the Spares Distribution Center (SDC) in Seattle, U.S.A.

The SDC team packages the parts into battery containment kits, destined for shipment to each customer. Each kit comprises two ventilated battery containment boxes and the vast majority of the parts needed to complete the modification, including insulation, tubing, wiring and supporting hardware like brackets and fasteners. The batteries themselves will be shipped from the manufacturer to the airline.

Now that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has approved the installation, the AOG teams have begun installing the new battery kits.

KC-46 Behind the GAO Scene

Warning this may turn into a long read for those who need to know what's happening to the KC-46 program from the long and short through GAO's pair of glasses.

First GAO said some good things about the program and Headlined as follows:

Program Generally 
Stable but 
Improvements in 
Managing Schedule 
Are Needed

Full GAO Report With This 2012 Link


Figure 2: KC-46 Development Contract Management Reserves Allocation Trend (December 2012)

Note: Reporting of contract cost performance data including the allocation of management reserves started in May 2011.

The quick rate of depletion of Boeing’s management reserves raises concerns. Two years into a 7-year development program, the contractor has already allocated about 80 percent of the total available. Less than $72 million is available for future contingencies related to the more than $3.5 billion in government funded contract work remaining. DOD anticipates this negative trend will continue, since Boeing has told them design and technical issues driving the allocation of management reserves are not fully resolved.

At the current allocation rate, our analysis shows that management reserves will be depleted in May 2013, prior to the critical design review in July 2013 and more than 4 years before the contractually required delivery date for 18 operationally ready KC-46 aircraft in August 2017.

Page 11 GAO-13-258 KC-46 Tanker Aircraft

According to GAO’s Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, significant use of management reserves early in a program may indicate contract performance problems and decreases the amount of reserves available
for future risks, particularly during the test and evaluation phase when demand may be the greatest.9

At the current rate, none of the reserves will be available to complete the bulk of development work, as well as the entire period of development testing. Even though Boeing is contractually liable for all costs above the $4.9 billion ceiling price, unanticipated design changes, deficiencies discovered in testing, and other risks encountered that might require management reserves funding could place added pressures on cost and schedule as the development program moves forward. The program has not yet evaluated how the significant use of these funds early in development could impact future milestones.
LnD Note:
Boeing runs out of management contingency money before design review in July. No worries, changes were made outside management's control since 2011 that ate money up so money will be found to continue the Management Contingency Account.
Conclusions: Typically these type of statements are the summary overview of what an audit or review finds and states in a conclusive report. It is neither leaning towards good results or bad but is the result of its attribute testing and results. These are Blue conclusions from findings, before a review focuses on the root problems or achievements.

GAO Conclusions for this segment of the Review: (Or observations in summary)

"Entering its third year, the KC-46 development program is, for the most part, progressing as planned even though some concerns exist. The program has an ambitious schedule, particularly with regard to flight testing. While program estimates are essentially unchanged, the development contract cost estimate continues to be above the contract ceiling price, making it essential the government not change KC-46 requirements.

 Boeing has also allocated management reserves at a high rate which raises concerns because doing so early in a program is often an indicator of future contract performance problems. While the fixed price development contract caps the government’s cost liability, it would still behoove the Air Force to fully understand the causal factors driving the accelerated use of management reserves in order to recognize risks, consider potential trade-offs, and better understand circumstances that could impact on-time delivery to the warfighter. 

Also, improvements to a few aspects of the program’s master schedule could make it more 
complete and robust to further help ensure program success."

Recommendations For Executive Action:

We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense take the following two actions on the KC-46 program.

(Recommendations are always a My Own Red Ticket Part of any review, where Boeing and DOD expects to render a concurrence, and must follow up with immediate action for meeting the recommendation. I was a Governmental Auditor Supervisor and was pleased to offer recommendations as in summary statements for a program where deficiencies are found from the review. Hence the Red colored font.)

• "To help understand and monitor the causes of the majority of contractor management reserves being allocated two years into development, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force, after Boeing has fully resolved the relevant design and technical issues, to analyze the root causes for the rate of expenditure of reserves in order to help the Air Force fully recognize and mitigate risk areas."

• "To help maintain a more thorough and insightful KC-46 development schedule, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force to address our concerns related to three schedule best practices (capturing all activities, sequencing all activities, and conducting a schedule risk analysis), where we concluded the program’s master schedule had only partially met best practice criteria."

Now my take on this is an interesting read from end of December 2012, is the KC-46 program has had to scramble management issues with additional resources applied to the changes found during start-up of the project. Contingency money set aside, is used to resolve the changes in program imposed by both Boeing and the DOD. The Budget had about X so many millions set aside to met these DOD changes as the program unfolded, and then the DOD weighed in on what it needed. As Boeing has done for its compliance to DOD they spent the pot by December 2012 and by May it will zero out of money through allocations of its funds for DOD program change management and Boeing's project changes.  Everything else is on track with the KC-46 but its Costing Boeing by eating into the 4.89 Billion dollar total they cannot exceed. What remains to be decided is what the DOD has required outside the original contract amount should not count against the Boeing expenditures. Boeing may have some reimbursement coming as it did accomplish items outside the contract under DOD requests. No one seems alarmed at this point about the depletion of the account so I would assume Boeing understands as well as the DOD where monies will come from to support the contingency program fund as it readies for the July 2013 bench mark on the KC-46.

Other than that I look forward to the next GAO at the end of 2013. They will do this oversight effort through 2015 unless directed with a continuance order until the aircraft does not pass the next couple of benchmarks.

About best the practices fix, that is probably complete and running, as a checklist item under the category of "We Concur", and so forth, with an implementation of covering the best practices gap as found, "partial completion" recommendation, with a stamp "completed report" to the GAO. That item is one Boeing would have liked to skate by, and now they had to address it sooner rather than later. GAO will revisit these check items in the next cycle. I believe the KC-46 program is doing well over-all, until it first flies and then Boeing and DOD will be very busy tweaking the program with all the current unseen issues that appear when it flies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

FAA Expected to Clear 787, Friday, April 19th, Is An Epic Day In U.S. History..... So April 25 Is A Better Day to Announce

FAA Expected to Clear 787

Wall Street Talking Points:
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to move as soon as Friday to end a three-month grounding of Boeing Co.'s BA -0.66% 787 Dreamliner jet, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • Spokeswomen for the FAA and the Department of Transportation declined to comment. Without commenting on the timing of a decision, a Boeing spokesman reiterated that the company stands "ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialogue with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations."
  • When the plane maker submitted its full data package to the FAA earlier this month, according to people familiar with the details, the company asked for a final decision by about April 16 on the grounds that was enough time for regulators to validate its conclusions.
  • The only suspense, according to people familiar with the deliberations, was whether the FAA would choose to give the green light before or after the National Transportation Safety Board holds public hearings next week that are intended to dissect and criticize the agency's original 2007 approval of the 787's battery system.
  • On Tuesday, Mr. Huerta told the Senate Commerce Committee that Boeing performed 20 specific tests and then "provided a very extensive set of documents to the FAA."
  • The agency, according to government and industry officials, also is expected to maintain approval for 787s to fly routes over water or polar regions that take the planes up to three hours from a suitable emergency landing strip.
  • Now, he (Huerta) is confronting critics inside and outside the safety board who contend FAA leaders before him made serious mistakes and failed to exercise aggressive oversight of Boeing when they approved the batteries in the first place. Those questions are likely to dominate next week's safety board hearings.
  • In his Senate testimony on Tuesday, Mr. Huerta buttressed the point that when it comes to the 787, he doesn't always get to make the ultimate decision by himself. When asked about his role, Mr. Huerta told the panel that "I would be the one making the recommendation" to Mr. LaHood.
So goes the 787 saga. I place this article as a footnote to the blog, and not just as a repeat of the article, but the filtering of meaningful regulatory status provided by the WSJ. Use it for further discussion or comment. Readers may comment if you choose.  Something is about to happen with the 787 before May 1, 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ETOPS, The Wick On Boeings Lamp.

The battery issue is tied to FAA ETOPS evaluation, in that ETOPS is an intermediate control mechanism for the 787 long route service for which it was designed. The FAA can turn that wick back from 330 minutes, 180, or 120 minutes. Once the Boeing work-around on Boeing's battery fix returns to service, an FAA directive limiting the 787 to shorter runs using the ETOPS governance. That constraint will be in place until Boeing's intermediate route running satisfies its battery fix, with sustained flight without any faults. Boeing's wick won't turn up to a 360 minutes ETOPS until it has trimmed off all the electrical faults once and for all.

Dreamliner 787s: FAA says not considering extended ETOPS

"The latest FAA guidance on the Dreamliner 787 situation says that no matter what it does and when about the current grounding order, it is no longer considering a Boeing request to extended its ETOPS rating from 180 minutes to 330 minutes.
Nor did it clarify whether or not it intended to restore the ETOPS 180 minutes rating the 787s had when they were grounded just over three months ago after failures in heavy duty lithium ion batteries in a Japan Airlines and an All Nippon Airways jet.
The top U.S. aviation regulator said on Tuesday he expects to decide “very soon” whether to approve Boeing Co’s redesigned 787 Dreamliner battery system, potentially ending a three-month ban on flights by the high-tech jet.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta, testifying to a congressional committee on air safety, said the agency is reviewing tests and analysis submitted by Boeing and will approve it when “we are satisfied Boeing has shown the redesigned battery system meets FAA requirements.”
Huerta told reporters after the hearing that he expects the battery decision to be made “very soon.”
Huerta said the FAA was working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating battery problems on two separate 787s in January, but would not necessarily link its decision to an NTSB hearing next week.
“We’re on our own timetable in terms of completing the analysis,” Huerta told reporters. “Once we’re ready to move and make a determination, we will.”
He also told the committee the FAA was considering separately whether to certify Boeing’s 787 for extended-range operations, known as ETOPS. The plane was approved for flights over remote areas of up to 180 minutes when it was grounded for two battery meltdowns in January.
Before the grounding, Boeing had requested an upgrade to 330 minutes, but Huerta told reporters the agency was “not considering any expansion beyond that (180) at this time.”
Reading those comments from a Qantas perspective, the Boeing interest in ETOPS 330 is irrelevant, because neither the airline, nor Australia’s air safety regulator CASA, have ever shown any official interest in a rule that allowed a 787 to fly up to 330 minutes single engine speed from a suitable and open emergency airfield.
CASA as the national safety regulator, has to approve the ETOPS rating of an Australian registered airliner even if the jet is certified to that standard at the hangar door by US standards.
This is because ETOPS reliability isn’t just built into an engine/airframe combination, but comes with some very tough maintenance procedures and reliability obligations which have to met by the airline concerned. ETOPS is not just what it is, but how it is done.
Critically, if a reliability problem arises with an ETOPS certified engine/airframe combination, that approval is revoked until the airliner and airline concerned both demonstrate that the unforgiving standards the process set for them has been restored. The grounding of the 787 means that its ETOPS 180 rating need not be restored as a matter of course when the grounding is lifted. It may be, but it may also be reduced to 120 minutes, or less.
Qantas subsidiary Jetstar, which on latest guidance may not get the first of 14 Boeing 787-8s on order until as much as several months after the intended initial delivery this August, needs ETOPS 180 to have an efficient and useful Dreamliner. Like all other modern twin engined wide body western jets in service with airlines world wide, Jetstar’s fleet of 10 Airbus A330-200s are ETOPS 180 rated.
They are to be returned to Qantas for mainly domestic use as Jetstar replaces them with Dreamliners. Anything less than ETOPS 180 is likely to seriously disrupt that process.  So already has the 787 grounding, and it is very important for the Qantas group that the 787-8s experience no more delays.
Boeing has said that fixing (after a fashion) the 787 battery problem with a super fire box to cover all eventualities has delayed by an unspecified period its work on the enhanced and stretched higher capacity longer range 787-9 Dreamliner, for which Qantas holds options or purchase rights from 2016.
Next week the US safety investigator, the NTSB, will hold public hearings into the process by which the Boeing 787 was certified by the FAA, and other related matters."
All Battery/Electrical issues must be conclusively extinguished before proceeding and expanding ETOPS.
So Boeing 787 is left holding a 180 minute ETOP bag if lucky  probably, with the FAA. It may be reduced to 120 minutes if the confidence in the fix reduces. Boeing must make a valiant effort with its customers and FAA to preserve the 180 minute standard for  its 787. The 330 minute standard remains a pipe dream until 787 customers and Boeing demonstrates a confident maintenance, and operational standards that would support the 330 minutes. The maturation of the 787 and its systems need to catch up to The FAA's need for reliance in the aircraft.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Update #1: Boeing Is Leaving The Chips In the Pot Awaits NTSB/FAA Thumb Direction

The NTSB has stated the following:

“Boeing has to identify and properly mitigate the risks to the FAA’s satisfaction,” Hersman said. Lifting the grounding “really is up to the FAA.”

Has Boeing done that what is asked?

Does it know what causes thermal runaway with empirical data?

The answer appears to be a convoluted picture drawn by risk mitigations, contingency plans for safely flying during battery faults, and ground level factory assurances, before the battery is even installed. Does this plethora of  mitigations answer the two above questions offered by FAA?

Boeing has appeared to move its 787 beast forward by announcing new delivery schedules:

Etihad 2014 Boeing Announcement

In a statement on UAE news agency WAM, Boeing Senior Vice President, John Wojick said “Boeing is committed to engaging Etihad Airways as it will deliver the agreed aircrafts in the first quarter of next year.”

Etihad Airways to get 12 Boeing aircraft in 2014

The signed order includes 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. This would bring the total number of aircraft purchased by Etihad to 41, to be delivered between 2014 and 2019.

Boeing to deliver Etihad Airways Aircrafts Early 2014

John Wojick has commended Etihad Airway's decision of buying 12 Boeing Aircraft at a total value of AED10.3 billion. The signed order includes 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, thus bringing the total of aircrafts purchased by Etihad to 41, to be delivered between 2014 and 2019, rendering it the largest operator of this model in the world.

A telling commitment is found with these above announcements.

Below are points to ponder:

Boeing, not one for being ahead of themselves, or over confident in the fix is moving ahead without any further hesitation. The following points are as follows:

1. They know what FAA and NTSB have before them, and what they want is found in the first two questions of this blog.

2. They have with certainty placed a solution that will not fail with rigorous further testing, through hearing, or examination.

3. Marketing is now acting to regain market momentum as the FAA and NTSB ponder its way through to a conclusion of Boeings workmanship on a solution. They, Boeing, have sufficiently presented a case that peer industry, and 3rd party technology concurring the state of the art, will sustain Boeing's case. The FAA and NTSB must on its own counter the solution with empirical data, or evidence that Boeing is wrong in its findings. Boeing is confident that after "due diligence" is given by the governing bodies, no such evidence will surface, and by May 2013, this will elevate to a provisional level where Boeing can fly while further testing is ongoing for supporting its solutions by Boeing.

4. Finally, after a clean track record, the electrical system will be accepted with all its layers of safety implemented, during normal operations, over the next several years it will fly with provisional monitoring, and then it will be put rest with a follow-on validation report by the FAA if no further problems occur within the provisional period.


Wall Street Journal 4-16-2013  Link to full article.

Boeing 787 Has Completed Tests, FAA Says

Lead in: 
"The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing Co. BA -0.30% "has completed all required tests and analysis" intended to demonstrate the safety of battery fixes on its 787 jets."

LiftnDrag Opinion:

The FAA does not have the scientific or leading edge technology of its own, other than that Boeing has acquired in making this technology fly. They have placed themselves into a position of decision-making over a multi billion dollar industry using Boeing's data as a basis for judgement, of which it lacks first hand expertise on the subject matter. I find it difficult for the FAA to stall further out of its own ignorance on the subject, where few people have the expertise on lithium-ion batteries and electrical architecture. 

The FAA knows this and so does Boeing. What I see is a pause on the decision until FAA catches up on Boeing's solutions and it can also amass some third party input before rendering a decision. A decision will be made as soon as FAA can position itself as some kind of authority over the issue, and has confidence in its decision over Boeing, while using the company's (Boeing) own solution as basis of its decision. Bottom line, the FAA wants to remove itself from any future claim if the Battery/electrical system faults and remain an authority over aviation's progress.

How can a new future technology innovated by Boeing, be governed by FAA conventional wisdom? Who, as a governmental agency, does not obtain or can evaluate that empirical evidence other than from the same company that it is examining? This conundrum is the holdup of the FAA. There is no subject matter expert to call up,  other than Boeing on this application of the Lithium-Ion battery used in an all electric airplane. Boeing has exceeded the relevant range of the FAA knowledge.  Now Boeing must wait until the governing body catches up.  When you talk in weeks its really an assent of faith by the FAA in Boeing's technological status, as a safe airplane maker. It will be a leap of faith by FAA to approve the fix.  Boeing knows this and it stakes its reputation on this conundrum of procedural approval. I have confidence in the fix without high level inside information. The FAA needs a reason to have that same level of confidence. It will take years for them to catch up to Boeing for having the same level of knowledge gained from Boeing's 100's of thousands of engineers and workers.

Two steps yet remaining on the table for immediate 787 flight.

Boeing= We need an approval document please, the work is done and complete!

FAA= We need to issue a CYA (cover your a**) document with good rational, after we learn What Boeing Knows  (WBK)!