FAA grounds Boeing's 787 after battery fires on plastic planes
Not just for iPods and laptops but Dreamliners, too
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners over fears that its lithium-ion batteries are unsafe, after they were linked to two aircraft fires in the space of ten days.
"The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes," said the FAA in a statement. "The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment."
The grounding came hours after an All Nippon Airways 787 flying over Japan had to make an emergency landing due to a fire in its electronics compartment. The incident follows a similar fire on January 7, where a Japan Airlines aircraft, thankfully empty, burned for 40 minutes just after it landed at Boston's Logan International Airport.
Judging from the state of the auxiliary power units that caused the Boston fire, the problems are serious. The National Transportation Safety Board is also conducting a separate investigation into the issue.
Not a sight for nervous fliers
A source familiar with the case told El Reg that the precise cause of the fire is yet to be determined. They said that the 787 does carry a fire suppression system, which uses inert gas to suffocate flames, but it only covers the cargo hold. The electronics compartment just has a smoke detector.
The fleet's grounding has been likened to a similar order issued in 1979 over troubles with the DC-10. That's hardly an association desired by Boeing for its much-delayed but popular composite aircraft. While other 787s have suffered teething problems, like cracked windows or leaking fuel, groundings by the FAA and other air authorities are a major problem.
Whereas Airbus dedicated the bulk of its efforts into building bigger aircraft like the A-380, Boeing concentrated on fuel efficiency with the 787. The lightweight hull of composite materials has a large amount of on-board electronics, meaning batteries are necessary to make sure there's enough juice.
Lithium batteries are notoriously tricky things, as any laptop or consumer electronics manufacturer will tell you. But when you're 30,000 feet up and in an aircraft packed with the things, a fire is a major problem, particularly if the ruptured batteries are leaking corrosive and conductive fluid over electrical systems.
If on-board suppression systems can't handle an in-flight fire, the only solution is to ditch the plane fast and get everybody off, and the 787 is designed for long flights over oceans. To date, no large commercial airliner has even landed intact on open ocean (despite what the pretty picture in the kiss-your-arse-goodbye folder shows) and no-one wants to be the next to try.
Engineers are now going over the fleet to try and identify the problem. United is the only US airline using the 787 and its aircraft are confirmed down while checks are carried out, as are most of the others that have been delivered. ®
I'm sorry, I missed the bit where the Airbus was grounded by all the world's authorities. Could you fill me in on that episode?
An eco-friendly solution
The solution is simple. Remove the batteries and install treadmills in cattle class so that he swine can earn their cheap flights by generating some electricity.
For an additional fee of, say, £200, business class passengers can crack the whip down in cattle class for 15 minutes, encouraging the worker classes to be more productive and vent a little steam over their disease-ridden degenerated ramblings about corporate tax avoidance and bonuses.
It's a win-win for all.
Re: An eco-friendly solution
"...cattle class so that (t)he swine ..."
Ad hoc mixed metaphors are not certified for use in flight.
Re: Aircraft + fire
>Boeing ... kicked off the triple 7 program & I was highly impressed at what I saw.
With their plan to outsource not only manufacture but design of each part to the lowest bidder, and then have each of those suppliers contract it out to their lowest bidder and so on with no oversight?
I have to buy fscking USB cables for $$$ from an ISO certified supplier and have a formal process of validating and inspecting that supplier and yet the design of bits of 787 get outsourced so far down the tree that Boeing have to formally admit they have no idea who DESIGNED some parts.
To date, no large commercial airliner has even landed intact on open ocean (despite what the pretty picture in the kiss-your-arse-goodbye folder shows)
What a load of old rubbish! I saw a documentary, literally years ago, which showed a plane that survived this. It was even stuck underwater for hours, and all the passengers were still rescued.
What plane was it again? Oh yes, I remember. It was one of those atomic powered Fireflashes. I guess it would have been a chap called Gordon Tracey who did the underwater cleverness to save the day...