Wednesday, July 24, 2013

No Rush To Judgment With 787 Fire Cause

Several Days back I report a simple condition in the complex 787 aircraft. It is now confirmed, please note a prior observation from my 7-21-2013 Blog comment with this news report today.

Liftndrag Observation on 7-21-2013:

"The high humidity, is a contributing  factor, a crimped wire another event both of which in tandem would make for an awkward condition for electrical shorting. Could a crimped wire caught in a battery compartment cover, that is supposed to be sealed from water or humidity, cause the unsealed area to have an electrical short in the containment area? I don't know, just speculating over press information. A bad practice of mine and a plausible indulgence when blogging. However, it sounds like a human error on one of 68 flying copies of a much beleaguered aircraft with multiple hiccups.

News article on 7-24-2013: Link is below this reference @mynorthwestnews

"Crossed or crushed wires are now the leading cause of that fire in an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 two weeks ago.

It's looking like human error, and not a design flaw, is being considered as the reason why the Emergency Locator Transmitter caught fire and burned the 787 as it sat at the terminal at Heathrow Airport in London.

The Seattle Times reports the investigation has found that the wires connecting the battery to the transmitter were trapped and pinched by the cover by an improper installation, and that likely caused a short-circuit that sparked the fire."


It has now become the likely cause of the fire. If confirmed it will open up a massive litigation problem for both Honeywell and Boeing. Who will end up buying Ethiopian Airways a new aircraft, a two hundred million US dollar invoice is awaiting these two giants. Ethiopian will add on, out of service cost with  lost revenue during its revenue generating and opportunity loss on the books.  Boeing would better cough up an extra 787 copy, sooner rather than later by moving a production copy to the head of the line for Ethiopian in the next six months. I hope this becomes the case.

Moving on to the beautiful "Queen of Sheba" left behind burned and spurned at LHR, Boeing needs to get an annual lease going with LHR to recover its airplane. An audit of the damage and feasibility of returning the aircraft to the air would better fit Boeing's needs as a test mule than trying to pawn it off on some low budget airline wanting some 787 fame. Even though the aircraft is probably recoverable, it could not be sold and offset the cost of doing repairs unless they want this science fair project of proving a point of how "easy" it is to refurbish the CFRP hull, in a catastrophic fire damage to its structure. Personally, I would like them to demonstrate to the world how recoverable or how a system is developed for the barrel design it could be restored. Airbus claims with its panel concept on the A350 this would be an efficient procedure to unlock panel sections and replace per damaged area. That is a strong argument to saving an aircraft. However if Boeing could demonstrate at a remote location such as LHR Airport how they could manage a repair and fly it home and then reassign it as a development aircraft would best serve Boeing on multiple fronts. Using this aircraft for proving Boeing repair procedures.

Once again without being the resident CRFP expert I have to assume a procedure:

Take exacting measurements of the damaged area and form a partial barrel insert, not a full barrel section but a span of the the top half of the barrel to be spliced into the hull. This would include support ribbing interlacing with the remaining barrel as a significant repair. All this would be designed with computer engineering, making a specifically made tendril matching the new barrel insert. Therefore, any major patch is an engineered section to be inserted as on the Ethiopian hull, where the damage has been removed to a strong point.  The new repair piece would be inserted and braced stronger than the original hull. The aircraft would fly slightly heavier, but suitable for testing even to the extent of testing for military applications on the 787. Boeing needs to recover this loss using this aircraft internal to its goals in the development area, rather then just writing it off as a loss.