Posts Tagged ‘Boeing 787’

Noted in Passing 9th February 2013

February 9, 2013

A weekly post on things that were interesting or which I would have liked to have blogged about …….

Science and Behaviour

The Fonseca Bust

Hair-dos and archaeology come together in an intriguing article in the Wall Street Journal which shows that there is a logic to hair styling.

MIT research suggests that India joined with Asia 10 million years later than previously thought while Caltech research indicates that that iron melts at higher temperatures than has been reported in the past and that the earth’s core more be a trifle warmer than has been assumed before.

257,885,1611, which is also the 48th  Mersenne prime, was discovered on the computer of Dr. Curtis Cooper, a professor at the University of Central Missouri.

Global warming hard-liners are having to accept that the world isn’t warming as quickly as their catastrophe theories suggest. But they are not yet giving up on their religious beliefs about the anthropogenic causes of warming. But some more of the alarmism around global warming has to be recanted or at least toned down as new studies show that the Amazon rain forest is far more resilient to climate change than the doomsayers would have us believe.  Back in 1975 when the catastrophe theory of the day was the imminent cooling of the world, there were suggestions that the Arctic should be melted to try to get the world to warm up!!

Apparently certain certain volatile organic gases can promote cloud formation in a way  never considered before by atmospheric scientists. So much for “settled” climate science.

Pain and itching are both sensations which have a protective purpose and are linked to survival. Itching warns of the presence of irritants and it may be that there are a specific set of nerve cells that signal itch but not pain.

Flocking starlings strike an optimal balance between the work of responding to social cues from their neighbors and the need to conserve energy. They do this by coordinating with their seven nearest neighbors and form their characteristic flocks with the least effort.

Sweden is not immune to discrimination against job-seekers who have “foreign” names.

Amherst College seems to be taking sexual violence on campus seriously……

Engineering and Technology

The oil shale boom is having unexpected benefits even for rural banking in addition to changing the face of energy supplies.

The origin of the battery fire that occurred on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 at Boston Logan Airport in January has been identified as a single cell in a lithium-ion battery cell. Now the causes of the initiating short-circuit have to be found.

Meanwhile, Boeing has started telling its customers to expect serious delivery delays for the Boeing 787 as far out as this summer.

Bad Science

A mediocre academic, Brett Mills, seeks publicity by claiming that David Attenborough is minimising the prevalence of gay animals!

Earthworms are long revered for their beneficial role in soil fertility, but with the good comes the bad: they also increase greenhouse gas emissions from soils.

The Japanese Education Ministry is eyeing stricter penalties for researchers who misuse public research funds or commit fraud.

Last week, a California woman filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, alleging that Zoloft works no better than placebo, that Pfizer knew it, and that the company has run a systematic campaign to deceive doctors and the public in order to continue selling the drug.


Boeing Dreamliner batteries could be “inherently unsafe” while Airbus says it has a Plan B

February 1, 2013

The fault with the Boeing Dreamliner Batteries/electrical systems has not yet been found. This is not good news for Boeing since the grounding of 50 aircraft continues. Each grounded aircraft poses a potential claim on Boeing for about $2.5 million per month. The delay in finding the fault also correspondingly delays the selection of a “fix” and the deployment of that “fix”. And since some 850 aircraft have been ordered and production has not been stopped, the fix has to be deployed on a large number of aircraft.

In the absence of any identified fault Boeing are continuing to defend the 787 batteries and I read this as Boeing defending both the design of the chosen batteries and their decision to select these for use. They cannot really do anything else since they cannot acknowledge any potential liability while compensation claims are up in the air (or down on the ground may be more appropriate!).

Airbus apparently has developed a Plan B in the event an alternative to lithium-ion batteries must be found for the A350.

Airbus warned about the risks of lithium-ion batteries at a closed meeting of airlines in March 2011, according to a presentation first reported by Reuters this week.

“We identified this fragility at the start of development and we think we resolved it about a year ago,” Bregier said. “Nothing prevents us from going back to a classical plan that we have been studying in parallel.”

But there is a view that the design chosen by Boeing is fundamentally unsound – that the design lends itself to the possibility of thermal runaways with overheating and subsequent fires. If the design itself is flawed and there are better designs available, then Boeing’s decision process which resulted in using a flawed design could be more damaging  than any monetary compensation for the actual groundings. Boeing can ill afford a suggestion that their design or decision process itself is flawed. The current investigation is focused on finding any faults in the units as built and not – yet – on the fundamental design itself.

They can probably absorb the financial hit but my guess is that Boeing will lose considerable ground to the Airbus A350 which could take a long time to recoup.


The lithium ion batteries installed on the Boeing 787 are inherently unsafe, says Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and owner of electric car maker Tesla.

“Unfortunately, the pack architecture supplied to Boeing is inherently unsafe,” writes Musk in an email to Flightglobal.

“Large cells without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect means it is simply a matter of time before there are more incidents of this nature,” he adds.

Both Boeing and Tesla use batteries fueled by lithium cobalt oxide, which is among the most energy-dense and flammable chemistries of lithium-ion batteries on the market. While Boeing elected to use a battery with a grouping of eight large cells, Tesla’s batteries contain thousands of smaller cells that are independently separated to prevent fire in a single cell from harming the surrounding ones.

“Moreover, when thermal runaway occurs with a big cell, a proportionately larger amount of energy is released and it is very difficult to prevent that energy from then heating up the neighboring cells and causing a domino effect that results in the entire pack catching fire,” says Musk.

…. “They [Boeing] believe they have this under control, although I think there is a fundamental safety issue with the architecture of a pack with large cells,” writes Musk in an email. “It is much harder to maintain an even temperature in a large cell, as the distance from the center of the cell to the edge is much greater, which increases the risk of thermal runaway.” 

Musk’s assessments of battery cells were confirmed by Donald Sadoway, a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I would have used the same words,” says Sadoway. “I’m glad someone with such a big reputation put it on the line.”

“He’s engineered [Tesla’s battery] to prevent the domino effect, while Boeing evidently doesn’t have that engineering,” adds Sadoway. ….. 

787 battery graphic

from Boeing

Design News:

The issue of battery cooling has been at the forefront of the Boeing story for a week. Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott professor of materials chemistry at MIT who is involved in a battery startup with Bill Gates, told us last week that a forced air cooling system and sensors may be needed to monitor and cool the battery in the event of overheating. Elton Cairns, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fuel cell designer for NASA’s Gemini spaceflights, also suggested that an air- or liquid-cooled system would be necessary.

Dreamliner delayed again and Qantas dramatics continue – now with B747 engines

January 19, 2011

Boeing has delayed the Dreamliner again — for the seventh time!

The Telegraph reports:

Boeing told investors on Tuesday that the 787 will now be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways in the third quarter of the year, rather than the first, after a fire on one of the test planes in November. All test flights were suspended for six weeks after the fire.

The 787, which seats 210 to 250 passengers and has a list price of $202m, promises to be the company’s greenest and most efficient airliner yet and uses advanced composite materials to achieve these savings. However, technical problems have pushed the aircraft behind schedule and it is now into its third year of delays. Boeing is under pressure to deliver the 787, which has become the company’s fastest-selling airliner.

Shinichiro Ito, the president of All Nippon, said last week the airline is having a “hard time” dealing with the delay. Boeing has secured 847 orders for the 787, which took its maiden flight in December 2009. Boeing insisted the latest setback will not have a “material impact” on its results, something investors appeared to agree with.

Meanwhile Qantas experiences further problems with its Rolls Royce engines . AFP reports on two Boeing 747 Qantas flights with engine problems:

A Qantas passenger jet bound for New York made an unscheduled stop in Fiji after it developed a problem with one of its engines, the Australian airline said Wednesday.

Qantas said flight QF107, a Boeing 747, carrying 375 passengers from Sydney to New York via Los Angeles, touched down in Nadi on Tuesday for repairs to a fuel valve supplying one of its engines…..

…… The hitch comes just days after another Qantas Boeing 747, QF11 to Los Angeles, experienced a contained engine failure on the runway of Sydney airport due to a turbine blade defect.

Media reports on that incident said that passengers heard “a loud bang” and saw black smoke pour from the affected engine, with the captain reportedly telling those on board that the engine had “cooked itself” over the plane’s intercom.

The “contained”  engine failure is the more serious issue. The Boeing 747 long-reach aircraft flown by Qantas uses  Rolls-Royce RB211-524G-T engines. The “T” at the end signifies that it includes some of the Trent modifications. The Trent 900 engines are used on the Airbus A380s while the Trent 1000 is  planned for the Boeing Dreamliner.

A Trent 1000 experienced an uncontained failure on the test-bed last year while the Trent 900 has had an uncontained failure and a number of other difficulties on the A380.


Boeing 787 Dreamliner further delayed to fix electrical problems

November 25, 2010
2nd Boeing 787 First Flight

2nd Boeing 787 first flight: Image via Wikipedia

Flightblogger reports:

In the 15 days since ZA002, Boeing’s second of six 787 flight test aircraft, suffered a fire in its aft electrical equipment bay, forcing a fleet-wide halt in certification testing, the airframer is days, if not hours, away from releasing its findings of its investigation and disclosing the impact to the aircraft’s first delivery, say company and industry sources.

An additional delay to the 787’s entry into service with All Nippon Airways is now a virtual certainty, the length of that delay, however, is yet unknown.
While some analysts have suggested the 787’s first delivery could slip to 2012, an additional delay of more than nine months, Boeing’s previous six delays have never shifted the schedule more than six months at a time. A six month slide beyond today’s February 2011 plan would place handover to ANA around August of 2011, more than three years after its original target.

The fire, which happened while on approach to Laredo, Texas, and its root cause, revealed an Achillies heel in the 787’s electrical system that must be resolved before the Dreamliner can enter service.

Boeing says its first 787 delivery will slide due to software and minor hardware changes to the electrical system, an assessment the company says will be completed within “the next few weeks.”

The airframer needs to implement changes to the software that manages and protect power distribution on the aircraft, as well as a minor hardware change to the P100 distribution panel to prevent foreign object debris (FOD) ingestion.

“We have successfully simulated key aspects of the on-board event in our laboratory and are moving forward with developing design fixes,” says 787 vice president and general manager Scott Fancher

Boeing says foreign debris “most likely” caused the November 9 fire aboard ZA002 that has halted 787 certification operations.

Air India’s first Dreamliner gets its colours

November 16, 2010

Air India‘s first 787 Dreamliner, registered VT-ANA, has been moved from the paint hangar to the Everett flight line. Airplane 25 is slated for a second quarter 2011 delivery to the Indian flag carrier.

Air India has 27 Dreamliners on order.

The VT prefix on Indian aircraft continues an old tradition and stands for “Viceroy Territory”:

The ICAO, a United Nations agency based in Montreal, was established in 1944 to draw up international regulations and standards for air travel. It is responsible for assigning the codes for airlines, airports and individual aircraft used by air traffic controllers across the world. It assigned the code VT to British India in 1944, three years before the country was divided into the independent states of India and Pakistan. India kept VT, while Pakistan was assigned AP. Britain now uses G. Several other former British colonies and territories still use codes that begin with V, such as Australia (VH), Antigua and Bermuda (V2), and the Falkland Islands (VP-F). Others have changed theirs, such as Fiji, which now uses DQ, and Kenya, which uses 5Y.

Plane 25 will be Air India's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner:Photos Credit Moonm

Air India Dreamliner VT-ANA: photo credit moonm

The black plasic on the windows is for  storage. Air India will be using General Electric GEnx engines (and the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 is the only other engine available for the Dreamliner).


General Electric GEnx - Paris Air Show 2009

Image via Wikipedia

General Electric GEnx at the Paris Air Show 2009: image Wikipedia

Now Boeing 787 Dreamliner delayed by fire on test flight

November 11, 2010
2nd Boeing 787 First Flight

First flight of Boeing 787 No.2: Image via Wikipedia

An electrical fire could have a myriad of causes and does not necessarily have any fundamental design implications, but the Dreamliner does not need further delays even for fairly trivial faults.

The Press Association reports:

Boeing has grounded its test fleet of new 787 passenger jets while it investigates an electrical fire that forced one of the planes to make an emergency landing. On Tuesday, a 787 on a six-hour test flight had to make an emergency landing in Texas after the crew reported smoke in the rear of the plane.

Boeing said it would take several days to analyse flight data and stopped flights for all of its 787 test planes “until we better understand the cause of the incident”. Spokeswoman Loretta Gunter said it is not yet clear how long it will be until test flights resumed. “We don’t have a schedule in mind right now,” she said.

The company plans ground tests on the planes while they are not flying.

Ms Gunter said the fire started in a power control panel in a rear electronics bay on the test plane. Boeing is inspecting the power panel and the area around it to see if other repairs are needed. The fire cut the plane’s electrical power. Boeing said back-up systems including a ram air turbine – essentially a wind-powered generator – functioned as expected.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Tuesday’s incident and the National Transportation Safety Board is monitoring the situation but has not sent investigators to the scene.

It is the latest setback for a plane that is already about three years behind schedule. Boeing had hoped to deliver the first 787, which it calls the Dreamliner, to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in the first quarter of next year.

“We are committed to finding the cause quickly but will not rush the technical team in its efforts,” the company said.

Further Boeing Dreamliner delays and Rolls Royce shares feeling the heat

November 7, 2010

Over 25 million shares were sold on Thursday and Friday as Rolls Royce shares plummetted from 654p to 591p as their problems with the Trent 900 engines for the Airbus A380 and with the RB211-524 engines for the Boeing 747 became apparent.

Further delays of the Boeing Dreamliner which is to use the RR Trent 1000 engines were reported causing speculation that some of these delays were due to delays with the engine.

Boeing Co.  has told several of its early customers that delivery of the 787 Dreamliner will be delayed by as long as 10 months, Aviation Week reported Friday, citing industry sources. Korean Air will receive its first 787 in August 2012, 10 months later than planned. Air India, previously slated to receive the plane in April 2011, will get it in September or October of that year.

Boeing has said it intends to make the first delivery of the plane to All Nippon Airways in the middle of the 2011’s first quarter, according to reports.

Aviation news website reported Thursday that Japan Airlines Corp. had expected to receive its first 787 delivery in March 2011, will now get the plane in June 2011.

Rolls Royce Trent 1000 fix is in place

September 28, 2010

RR Trent 1000 cutaway

On August 2nd a  production standard ‘Package A’ Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine suffered an engine failure while on the test stand at the company’s Derby, UK facility. The ‘Package A’ engines do not incorporate upgrades planned for the ‘Package B’ engines, which will bring the specific fuel consumption target within 1% of planned spec. The failure – which has been described as an “uncontained failure” – of the Trent 1000 engine, which powers the Dreamliner, resulted in “limited debris being released into the test facility,”
At the time a Rolls-Royce spokesman rejected speculation that the unavailability of the engine that Boeing required was related to the incident earlier this month at one of its test facilities in Derby, England, saying the events were “unrelated,” though he declined to elaborate.

Aviation Week: Rolls-Royce says it is already testing an upgrade to the Trent 1000 engine to mitigate a component problem that caused a failure of one of the turbofans this month. The engine maker suffered a Trent 1000 engine failure this month on a test stand in Derby, England, with the powerplant in a sea-level testbed configuration at high power. The engine suffered an intermediate pressure turbine-related failure because of what is being called an “inappropriate operating regime.”

Rolls officials note that ground and flight trials have not been affected, nor is the miscue expected to affect the larger 787 schedule. Rolls supplies the Trent 1000 to Boeing 787 lead customer All Nippon Airways.

Although some elements of what transpired are understood, a Rolls-Royce official notes that “we are now investigating in detail and have made good progress in understanding the issue.” The company was aware of the issue, so later model Trent 1000 builds already have a fix in place, which is now also being installed on engines built to the earlier standard.

The grapevine as to what transpired on August 2nd points to an oil fire in the high pressure compressor drum leading to a failure of the intermediate pressure (IP) shaft. One industry source says once the IP shaft failed, the mounted IP turbine disk moved rearward, causing its blades to impact the low pressure (LP) turbine inlet guide vanes. The result was the separation of the IP turbine disk, which subsequently spun out of the casing and into the test stand.  The same source adds that the “non-adherence to test procedures” was the root cause of the failure, saying that the “stand crew ran more cold starts in close succession than allowed without purging of fuel and oil that accumulate within the engine in places these fluids are not supposed to be.”

Bloomberg reports today that Boeing delayed the 787’s first delivery last month for the sixth time, saying Rolls-Royce wasn’t going to be able to supply an engine needed to finish flight testing. A $17 million Trent 1000 blew up during testing on Aug. 2, forcing Rolls-Royce to close the plant for repairs to the Derby, England, site used to test engines for the 787 and the Airbus SAS A350.

Dreamliner with RR Trent 1000 engines

Boeing Co. said Rolls-Royce Group Plc has a remedy for the August blowout of a jet engine for the 787 Dreamliner aircraft and the two companies will discuss it in meetings in Seattle this week.

A Rolls-Royce team will brief Boeing on a plan that supports the latest target for delivering the delayed Dreamliner at the beginning of next year, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh said. Boeing parked one of its five Dreamliner test jets earlier this month to replace one of its two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines that had experienced a power surge before takeoff. Albaugh said a fix is already in place to address the issue, which Boeing has said was unrelated to the engine blowout.

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