Friday, January 11, 2013

FAA to carry out detailed review of 787 electrical system,Boeing to continue to produce, assemble and deliver Dreamliners during review

The FAA and Boeing announced that the government will carry out a detailed review of the design, manufacture, and assembly of the electrical and power distribution systems abroad the 787.

Boeing has told me that this review does not affect the production, assembly and delivery of the 787s nor does it ground the 787s currently in service. Boeing did conduct a ferry flight of one 787 to Charleston after being painted in Ft. Worth and had planned to do a first flight of another 787 today (put off to tomorrow probably). Thus Boeing continues with operations as usual and the operators continue to fly the aircraft. today ANA did initiate service between San Jose and Tokyo using the 787. However, this action will delay the efforts of Boeing to certify the aircraft for ETOPS 330.

Possible results from the review can include:

1) redesign of components
2) changes in manufacturing processes and improved quality control
3) nothing

The last option is unlikely to happen and it is all but certain that there will changes coming. The question is what are the nature of the changes and what affect will it have on production and delivery as well as the program's bottom line which is already in the red?

Both Boeing, the DOT and the FAA went to great pains to reiterate during the announcement today that the aircraft is safe and reliable but observers do question that assessment given that the FAA is conducting the review in light of the electrical issues and the battery fire that the in service 787s have experienced to date. I do believe that at the end of the day there will be changes that could add to the cost of production of the 787 and may add delays to the planned ramp up to 10/month.

There is no timetable for the conclusion of the review and Michael Huerta did say that the length and any changes that the FAA will require will be dependent on the data that the agency collects and analyzes from Boeing and the suppliers.

A source told me that he feel that the investigation will either validate the design or find issues which they will fix and he welcomes the investigation. It is a serious enough issue to look into but he also thinks that the FAA won't find anything that won't require anything more than tweaks or adjustments to quality control and should not be a show stopper. He isn't losing sleep over the investigation.

In the meantime the battery fire on ZA183 and the fuel leak on her sister ship the following day has generated such a media frenzy that new outlets are now reporting on issues such as cracked windshields,and oil leaks. These are issues that occur on airplanes all over the world and are more of a nuisance than a public safety issue. The media jumped on every little squawk that occurred since the fire. My feelings is that the media has decided to make newsworthy, simple issues that occur everyday on airplanes around the world simply because they were bored and needed to sell papers. There is simply no need to to repot a cracked wind shield or a simple oil leak for any other reason except to jump on the bandwagon with those how are shrilling that the 787 is an unsafe airplane when in reality it is not.

At the end of the day the FAA will make recommendations for manufacturing, quality control, and/or design tweaks to make the electrical system safer and more reliable.

5 comments:

Capt747ret said...

My 2 cents worth
The news media thrives on controversy, pain and spin. Let’s make it clear that spin is another word for lie; it is a distortion of truth. It is normal for reporters to embellish. They believe it is their right! The news is a product. It is no different than going to the grocery store and buying a bag of potatoes. The reporter is selling something just like used cars. Be careful who you trust.

The fuel spill in BOS was due to a valve that was open either thru human or software error. The fuel thus sloshed between the tanks and filled the vent lines. Except for the sticky valve the system worked as designed. It was not a leak it was a spill – huge difference. It’s happened to me and most every pilot. No one wants to drive or fly with a fuel leak.

You do the same when you gas up and fill your car tank vent lines and it overflows. The idiots of the press just want to create yellow journalism! Then they hide behind Freedom of the Press. For some reason they believe they get a free pass for their deliberate hype and misrepresentations. What it does is distort the problem from reality. Then the bureaucrats step in (not sure which one is worse).

Concerning some of the electrical issues from AW&ST:
“We’d only seen it once in 100,000 hours on the system. Then we had the similar event on the United airplane and two days later a similar one on Qatar. We realized all three of those boards came from the same 16 boards in one manufacturing lot.”

The press will lead us to believe that there were another 3 burning hulks where the pax and crew “managed to escape with their lives”. That happened in BOS where everyone somehow escaped a half hour before it happened just in the nick of time. What a great emergency evacuation! They even used the Jetway!

Andrew Munsell said...

Capt747ret what a great response to the issues with the media (not the 787). Nobody take this the wrong way but I believe that there needs to be a limit to what the media can say about incidents and they should not be allowed to ruin the reputations of American Companies.

TravelingMan said...

If you don't have freedom of the press in your country you are on the path to corruption and big, big problems.

And the media doesn't ruin reputations. They report news. It is problems within companies that ruin their reputations.

That said, these problems are teething problems. They will all probably prove to have relatively simple fixes. Boeing and the Dreamliner will be fine and flying high for years to come.

graeme77 said...

He who thinks that the media only reports news lives in the 1950's.
The media is mobilized for the benefit of certain elements on the political and commercial map and drive a very particular activistic agenda.
Anyone who thinks they only report the news is very naive - to put it politely.

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