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Boeing 787 trouble

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane after multiple emergency landings across the world were required. Japanese and French aviation officials also have launched investigations.

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787 Landing at Sydney AustraliaK65674SEATTLE — United Airlines said Monday it plans to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time after its grounding on May 31.

The first United customers to fly on the plane will be those traveling from Denver to Houston, an airline spokeswoman said. It plans to get the jet back into service with U.S. routes at first. United has six of the jets.

The airline’s first trip overseas with the jet is currently scheduled on June 10 on its Denver-Narita, Japan.

United said it will made additional schedule changes as “we gain visibility into the timeline for certification and modification work.”

The 787, which has been grounded since January, made its second and final flight test last week.

From Chicago Tribune 

boeing test flight planeEVERETT — On Friday, Boeing completed its final certification test flight for a new battery system — malfunctioning batteries had plagued the aircraft manufacturer and required the grounding of its 787 planes. Friday’s final test flight fulfills the testing required by the FAA.

The test flight left Paine Field with 11 people on board, two of which were FAA representatives. The test flight lasted nearly two hours.

The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during normal and non-normal flight conditions, a spokesman for Boeing said.

Boeing will submit requested data on the test flight to the FAA. The FAA will then determine if it will allow Boeing to return the 787s to service.

EVERETT — Boeing announced Thursday that new, improved lithium-ion batteries on 787 commercial jetliners are in production and could be ready for initial installation within the next few weeks.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Boeing executives said that they hope commercial flights of the 787 will resume “within weeks, not months,” although that depends on the FAA and other regulators.

Battery fires and smoke from the batteries prompted the FAA to ground the Boeing 787 Dreamliners in January. The grounding has forced Japan’s airlines to cancel hundreds of flights, costing millions in lost revenue. Boeing has warned customers of delays to deliveries, although it continues to make the plane.

On Thursday, Boeing said the improvements on the batteries, which continue to undergo extensive certification testing, will allow operators to resume commercial flights with their 787s as soon as testing is complete and the Federal Aviation Administration and other international regulators grant their final approval.

boeing787The improvements include enhanced production and operating processes, improved battery design features and a new battery enclosure.

“As soon as our testing is complete and we obtain regulatory approvals, we will be positioned to help our customers implement these changes and begin the process of getting their 787s back in the air,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “Passengers can be assured that we have completed a thorough review of the battery system and made numerous improvements that we believe will make it a safer, more reliable battery system.”

Battery system changes include changes to the battery itself, the battery charging unit and the battery installation.

Earlier this week, the FAA approved Boeing’s certification plan, which lays out the testing to be done to demonstrate that the battery improvements address the conditions laid out in the Airworthiness Directive that has suspended 787 commercial operations.

The enhancements to the battery system address causal factors identified by the Boeing technical team as possible causes of battery failure.

“We’ve come up with a comprehensive set of solutions that result in a safer battery system,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president and chief project engineer, 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We have found a number of ways to improve the battery system and we don’t let safety improvements go once they are identified. We incorporate them into our processes and products.”

The first layer of improvements is taking place during the manufacture of the batteries in Japan. Boeing teamed with Thales, the provider of the integrated power conversion system, and battery maker GS Yuasa to develop and institute enhanced production standards and tests to further reduce any possibility for variation in the production of the individual cells as well as the overall battery.

Boeing, Thales and GS Yuasa have also decided to narrow the acceptable level of charge for the battery, both by lowering the highest charge allowed and raising the lower level allowed for discharge. Two pieces of equipment in the battery system – the battery monitoring unit and the charger are being redesigned to the narrower definition. The battery charger will also be adapted to soften the charging cycle to put less stress on the battery during charging.

Changes inside the battery will help to reduce the chances of a battery fault developing and help to further isolate any fault that does occur so that it won’t cause issues with other parts of the battery.

boeing787WASHINGTON, D.C. — Boeing received some good news today when the FAA announced that it approved the aircraft manufacturer’s redesigned 787 battery system and got the green light to conduct two test flights.

A thorough review of Boeing’s modification and plans to demonstrate the system’s ability to meet FAA requirements led to the go-ahead to begin to evaluate the 787′s return to flight. Boeing is required to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with applicable safety regulations.

“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

Boeing’s improvements to the battery system include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit in the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system, according to an FAA statement.

“We are confident the plan we approved today includes all the right elements to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery system redesign,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “Today’s announcement starts a testing process which will demonstrate whether the proposed fix will work as designed.”

A series of tests which must be passed before the 787 can return to service. FAA engineers will monitor the testing. Two aircraft have also been approved for limited test flights.

The FAA will approve Boeing’s battery redesign only if the company successfully completes all required tests and analysis to demonstrate the new design complies with FAA requirements, the agency said.

dreamlinerLONDON (CNNMoney) – Boeing has apologized to Japan’s leading airlines for the grounding of its revolutionary Dreamliner jet last month.

Raymond Conner, head of the commercial aircraft division at Boeing (BA, Fortune 500), said the incidents that led to the grounding of the entire fleet of Dreamliner 787 planes were “deeply regretful.”

“On behalf of the Boeing Company and the 170,000 people which I represent today, I want first to apologize for the fact that we’ve had two incidents with our two very precious customers, ANA and JAL,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

Between them, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines operate nearly half the 50 Dreamliners delivered to customers so far.

The Dreamliner has sold well in Asia and the Middle East, where airlines depend on long-range flights for much of their business and can benefit most from the improvements in fuel economy the lighter-weight plane promises.

Related: Boeing’s latest problem: Strike threat

The grounding last month due to fires linked to the use of lithium-ion batteries has forced Japan’s airlines to cancel hundreds of flights, costing millions in lost revenue. Boeing has warned customers of delays to deliveries, although it continues to make the plane.

The new plane is at the heart of ANA’s strategy, and if it remains out of service for an extended period of time, the damage to the airline could be significant. ANA has already said it will seek compensation from Boeing.

Conner said Boeing had hundreds of engineers working with external experts on the battery technology to come up with a solution that addresses all the possible causes of the incidents that led to the grounding.

“What we did today was discuss the solutions that we are looking at that could be the final solution to get airplane back in air flying again,” he said.

The problems with the new battery technology have already prompted Boeing’s European rival Airbus to revert to standard nickel-cadmium batteries in its A350 plane, designed to compete with the Dreamliner and due to make its first test flight in the middle of this year.

boeing787WASHINGTON — The FAA said Friday that it is reviewing a Boeing proposal aimed at fixing the 787 battery problems, but that it will not rush to reinstate the plane until it is fully confident the issue is  resolved.

“The FAA is reviewing a Boeing proposal and will analyze it closely,” the Federal Aviation Administration said. “We won’t allow the 787 to return to commercial service until we’re confident that any proposed solution has addressed the battery failure risks.”

Boeing met with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and other safety leaders on Friday afternoon in Washington, D.C., to discuss a solution to the battery meltdown issues that triggered an emergency landing in Tokyo last month and forced the FAA to ground all 50 in-service jets.

Boeing said the meeting, which was run by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Connor, was “productive.” The two discussed the status of ongoing work to address the 787 Dreamliner problems.

– By Jennifer Booton / FOXBusiness

Boeing over the last few weeks has employed a fleet of hundreds of experts, which it says have been working around the clock to try and resolve the issues.

“We are encouraged by the progress being made toward resolving the issue and returning the 787 to flight for our customers and their passengers around the world,” a Boeing spokesman said.

The FAA grounded the planes in January amid problems with the 787’s lithium-ion battery. Earlier this month, the agency allowed Boeing to begin test flights of the Dreamliner. However, the cause of the fires and meltdowns remains unclear.

Earlier this week, reports indicated the 787 could return to service as early as April. However, Boeing has not confirmed that timeline. Airlines have been adjusting their flight schedules over the next few months in anticipation of the Dreamliner’s unavailability, with United Airlineson Thursday saying it was removing the 787 from its flight plans through June 5.

Boeing said it has been working closely with the FAA and other safety authorities and is committed to take “every necessary step” to assure the integrity of the 787.

787 Landing at Sydney AustraliaK65674CHICAGO — With the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines said it is keeping the beleaguered aircraft off its flight schedule through June 5.

“We are taking the 787 out of our schedule through June 5, except for Denver-Narita, which will tentatively launch on May 12,” said Christen David, a spokeswoman for the airline.

United, the only U.S. carrier that has 787s in its fleet, has six of the planes. Boeing has delivered 50 787s to eight airlines worldwide.

The plane was grounded Jan. 16 by the FAA after two incidents occurred within two weeks involving the plane’s lithium-ion battery systems.

The technology was first implicated in a Jan. 6 fire aboard a parked 787 in Boston operated by Japan Airlines. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the root cause of the event, but said this month that investigators had found a short circuit in one of the aircraft’s batteries.

In the second event, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways had to make an emergency landing Jan. 16 in southwestern Japan after a warning of a battery failure. Investigators for the country’s Transport Safety Board have been looking into the circumstances that led to the incident.

On Thursday, the board said it found the battery was improperly wired, though more analysis was still needed.

Boeing has taken 848 orders for the Dreamliner from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world. Depending on the version ordered, the price ranges from $206.8 million to $243.6 million per jet.

The Chicago aerospace giant said it is working with the affected airlines and the regulatory agencies to get the matter resolved.

All Nippon Airways, which has 17 of the new planes, said earlier this month it is expecting 126,220 passengers to be affected by 1,887 flight cancellations through March 30.

– W.J. Hennigan/Los Angeles Times


dreamlinerJapan’s investigation into a burning lithium-ion battery aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight found it was improperly wired, according to an Associated Press report.

The country’s Transport Safety Board had been looking into the circumstances that led the All Nippon Airways flight to make an emergency landing in southwestern Japan.

All 137 passengers and crew were evacuated from the aircraft and slid down the Dreamliner’s emergency slides. Video of the event captured by a passenger has been viewed worldwide.

According to the AP, the Transport Safety Board’s report said “the battery of the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from doing damage.”

More analysis was still needed, the report said.

The announcement was the latest update of the safety investigation into the 787 after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded the aircraft Jan. 16 following two incidents within two weeks involving the batteries.

The technology was also implicated in a Jan. 6 fire aboard a parked 787 in Boston operated by Japan Airlines. The National Transportation Safety Board is still probing the root cause of the event, but said this month that investigators had found a short circuit in one of the aircraft’s batteries.

Boeing has delivered 50 787s to eight airlines worldwide. Six of the planes are owned by United Airlines — the only U.S. carrier that has 787s in its fleet.

Boeing said that it is unable to comment on the Transportation Safety Board’s findings, “as it is part of the investigation in Japan.”

–W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

boeing sc dreamlinerEVERETT – Boeing has a new headache as it deals with the Federal Aviation Administration’s grounding and investigation of its 787 fleet: The company has nowhere to park all of the Dreamliners it is continuing to manufacture.

When the FAA initially grounded the fleet in January, 50 787s were in service. The number of 787s built has grown since then and Boeing is running out of places to store them.

The jets continue to roll off the Everett assembly line at a rate of about one a week.

Two airfields — one in California and another in Arizona — are being considered as locations to store additional planes.

In the meantime, the FAA said the earliest the 787 could resume passenger flights would be May.