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)!