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(Seattle Times)   Boeing tries to win back dissatisfied 787 customers with quick fix for fiery battery problem. Fix includes heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box around battery cells, high-pressure evacuation tubes, and complete set of used rosary beads   (seattletimes.com) divider line 53
    More: Followup, Boeing, lithium-ion battery, cell phones, steel containment, containment box, containment, variable cost, retrofits  
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1549 clicks; posted to Business » on 18 Feb 2013 at 2:01 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-18 02:02:51 PM
buy American!

Boeing is getting to be the new Chrysler
 
2013-02-18 02:13:21 PM

derpy: Boeing is getting to be the new Chrysler


Not sure you can compare a 787 to a K-Car, after all the K-Car worked.
 
2013-02-18 02:42:42 PM

WhyteRaven74: derpy: Boeing is getting to be the new Chrysler

Not sure you can compare a 787 to a K-Car, after all the K-Car worked.


True.  Horrible car except it wouldn't die.  My wife had one when we got married.  Sounded like it was about to fly apart at any second.  That lasted for years until she crashed it.
 
2013-02-18 02:48:24 PM
What about the 788th customer?  Where's the satisfaction??
 
2013-02-18 02:57:22 PM
I feel bad for Boeing.  The auto industry learned long ago that a battery supplier is lying whenever his mouth his moving.  They all promise you the world and then end up supplying batteries that explode and shower your entire team with nasty chemicals.  It's still a very young and immature industry.  All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems.  The battery industry just doesn't seem ready to meet the tolerances of jets yet.

/In 2010 through 2011 it seemed like every week we were suing a different supplier over defective batteries and a different supplier was going bankrupt after losing a lawsuit
 
2013-02-18 03:07:44 PM

ha-ha-guy: I feel bad for Boeing.  The auto industry learned long ago that a battery supplier is lying whenever his mouth his moving.  They all promise you the world and then end up supplying batteries that explode and shower your entire team with nasty chemicals.  It's still a very young and immature industry.  All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems.  The battery industry just doesn't seem ready to meet the tolerances of jets yet.

/In 2010 through 2011 it seemed like every week we were suing a different supplier over defective batteries and a different supplier was going bankrupt after losing a lawsuit


This is what happen when you outsource to the lowest bidder. Boeing is getting what they deserve with this entire project.
 
2013-02-18 03:12:32 PM

ha-ha-guy: All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems


Boeing outsourced a bunch of the design and it bit them in the ass. The suits who had a boner for breaking the engineer's union seemed to think that just because the batteries were good for their satellite use they'd be OK on planes. (Sats have a one-time traumatic launch vibration and shock, planes vibrated thousands of hours every year.)

Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.
 
2013-02-18 03:19:35 PM

Surpheon: ha-ha-guy: All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems

Boeing outsourced a bunch of the design and it bit them in the ass. The suits who had a boner for breaking the engineer's union seemed to think that just because the batteries were good for their satellite use they'd be OK on planes. (Sats have a one-time traumatic launch vibration and shock, planes vibrated thousands of hours every year.)

Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.


The deal is, I'm not confident anyone out there can deliver a quick fix for the batteries on the 787.  Maybe LG Chem can pull a miracle out of their ass (they're the bestof the bunch), but I've yet to encounter any battery supplier I'm really truly happy with and trust.  It's more if I waterboard their resident engineers enough I can get the truth and demand some fixes, but they're a surly and untrustworthy bunch.  With a lot of farkups you can just call up the leading supplier in the field and make accounting buy you the parts you need to fix it.  Here I'm not sure if anyone has the parts in their catalog.  We ran two suppliers into bankruptcy just trying to design prototype batteries for the Volt.
 
2013-02-18 03:20:40 PM
Great idea. Put batteries in heavier box, negating any advantage of lighter batteries. How about a more robust current limiting circuit?
 
2013-02-18 03:28:22 PM

Dudley_Nightsoil: Great idea. Put batteries in heavier box, negating any advantage of lighter batteries. How about a more robust current limiting circuit?


It's basically the Tesla Roadster with wings at this point.  Tesla originally was going to have a two gear transmission in their Roadster.  However they couldn't get it working and kept missing ship dates, so they announced they would ship a batch of cars with the two gear transmission, but the cars would be locked into just one of the gears and would not shift.  Tesla said they would recall the cars and fix the problem under warranty later.  In the end they gave up and scrapped the two gear option.

At this stage Boeing is saying "Eventually this thing will have awesome lightweight batteries that provide amazing fuel efficiency, however so you can use the plane right now, we're going to slap this quick fix on it.  We'll fix it later so it is more fuel efficient."  I'd imagine this is in response to be people being pissed their new jumbo jets are sitting idle and not earning them any profit at all.  Boeing meanwhile would like to get these jets back into service and production instead of seeing business go to Airbus.
 
2013-02-18 03:30:18 PM
At least this problem is manageable. Maybe not easy to fix, but something that can be handled. It beats the hell out of being in a Scarebus when it breaks up at FL320. Nice. Great planes.


/Took this long?
 
2013-02-18 03:45:43 PM

Lunchlady: This is what happen when you outsource to the lowest bidder. Boeing is getting what they deserve with this entire project.


The end user/consumers give their money to the lowest bidder regardless of standards and quality. It was inevitable that the problem would move up the chain.
 
2013-02-18 03:54:46 PM

ha-ha-guy: Surpheon: ha-ha-guy: All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems

Boeing outsourced a bunch of the design and it bit them in the ass. The suits who had a boner for breaking the engineer's union seemed to think that just because the batteries were good for their satellite use they'd be OK on planes. (Sats have a one-time traumatic launch vibration and shock, planes vibrated thousands of hours every year.)

Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.

The deal is, I'm not confident anyone out there can deliver a quick fix for the batteries on the 787.  Maybe LG Chem can pull a miracle out of their ass (they're the bestof the bunch), but I've yet to encounter any battery supplier I'm really truly happy with and trust.  It's more if I waterboard their resident engineers enough I can get the truth and demand some fixes, but they're a surly and untrustworthy bunch.  With a lot of farkups you can just call up the leading supplier in the field and make accounting buy you the parts you need to fix it.  Here I'm not sure if anyone has the parts in their catalog.  We ran two suppliers into bankruptcy just trying to design prototype batteries for the Volt.


A123?
 
2013-02-18 04:02:55 PM

derpy: buy American!

Boeing is getting to be the new Chrysler


It was a nice company until McDonnell Douglas took them over.  It's going to end up being a case study in how not to change management teams.
 
2013-02-18 04:07:36 PM
It'll be a great comfort to know that any fire will be contained when a battery fails. It's not like it served any purpose anyway.
 
2013-02-18 04:08:47 PM

JohnAnnArbor: A123?


Yup, bunch of chronic farkups.  When you have so little valuable IP the Feds approve your sale to the Chinese, you know you're a bunch of losers.  Basically LG Chem is pretty good at what they did, Cobrasys is also decent but they're a massive pain the ass to work with.

Ener1 also went tits up for a variety of reasons and supposedly one of them was trying to get a piece of the Volt business.  Poor guys never got out of the R&D phase on multiple projects and died a horrible death.
 
2013-02-18 04:43:03 PM
I don't understand the temporary solution. Yeah, put it in a box so a potential fire doesn't spread to the rest of the plane, seems prudent.

But does the now contained battery still work when it's in that state of overheating/fire?

Why can't they temporarely replace the batteries with nicad ones untill they figure out what the problem is with these ones, no room?
 
2013-02-18 04:46:43 PM

spawn73: I don't understand the temporary solution. Yeah, put it in a box so a potential fire doesn't spread to the rest of the plane, seems prudent.

But does the now contained battery still work when it's in that state of overheating/fire?

Why can't they temporarely replace the batteries with nicad ones untill they figure out what the problem is with these ones, no room?


They could always bolt on a backup steam engine that could draw its power from the battery fire.
 
2013-02-18 04:48:57 PM
Batteries?  Isn't there wind power available up there?
 
2013-02-18 04:53:19 PM

theurge14: Batteries?  Isn't there wind power available up there?


Wind power is available.
 
2013-02-18 04:58:22 PM

You know, putting the flame-prone batteries in a fire proof box isn't really a solution. Aren't the batteries necessary for normal operation of the plane? Wouldn't being on a plane where the batteries were burning be dangerous in ways other than simply being on fire?

I may be giving Boeing too much credit here, but I am assuming that the batteries are there for some reason other than ballast.

sfcitizen.com
 
2013-02-18 05:08:52 PM
Why do I imagine a giant square piece of plastic on the bottom of the plane with a little pinch handle that's covering a pair of giant AA batteries?
 
2013-02-18 05:17:36 PM
Was "replace batteries that catch on fire with batteries that don't catch on fire" not an option?
 
2013-02-18 05:18:48 PM

spawn73: I don't understand the temporary solution. Yeah, put it in a box so a potential fire doesn't spread to the rest of the plane, seems prudent.

But does the now contained battery still work when it's in that state of overheating/fire?

Why can't they temporarely replace the batteries with nicad ones untill they figure out what the problem is with these ones, no room?


From what I can gather, exactly.  In order to put out the same amount of energy that a LiIon batt would, the NiCad's would have to be much, much bigger and be a shiatload heavier than their LiIon counterpart.

It amazes me that Boeing's "solution" to this is just to make a stronger containment box and vent the smoke and fire overboard.  That's the biggest "duct tape bandaid" thing I've ever heard.
 
2013-02-18 05:19:21 PM

SpectroBoy: You know, putting the flame-prone batteries in a fire proof box isn't really a solution. Aren't the batteries necessary for normal operation of the plane? Wouldn't being on a plane where the batteries were burning be dangerous in ways other than simply being on fire?

I may be giving Boeing too much credit here, but I am assuming that the batteries are there for some reason other than ballast.


Apparently one of the batteries that caught fire, were for backup instruments, thus not normally needed.

So I guess the battery being on fire is fine, because it's in a fireproof box. Unless the main battery has failed (on fire as well?) or something.

That sounds awesome (not).
 
2013-02-18 05:25:06 PM

SpectroBoy: You know, putting the flame-prone batteries in a fire proof box isn't really a solution. Aren't the batteries necessary for normal operation of the plane? Wouldn't being on a plane where the batteries were burning be dangerous in ways other than simply being on fire?

I may be giving Boeing too much credit here, but I am assuming that the batteries are there for some reason other than ballast.

[sfcitizen.com image 600x358]


Lithium ion (or just plain lithium) batteries usually only catch fire if you really fark something up*, like not protecting against over voltage/current or wiring them in parallel instead of series, or somehow shorting the contacts (a battery with no load is a very bad thing**). So the issue is not the batteries.  The issue is the control/protection circuitry around the batteries is totally farked up which is a much bigger pain in the ass to try and fix, especially if its an intermittent problem.

/GED in electrical engineering.

*Not included in this list is arson, purposely breaking them open, or tampering with the seals.. don't do that if you like not having 3rd degree burns
**Put a coin across the contacts of a 9V for a few minutes and see how hot it gets (it might burst so don't leave it there too long)
 
2013-02-18 05:50:34 PM

Doktor_Zhivago: Lithium ion (or just plain lithium) batteries usually only catch fire if you really fark something up*, like not protecting against over voltage/current or wiring them in parallel instead of series, or somehow shorting the contacts (a battery with no load is a very bad thing**). So the issue is not the batteries.


I guess you missed this section of the article:

Forensic work by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the battery fire in early January on an empty 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston started with a short circuit inside one of the battery's eight cells.

Battery experts caution that while the most likely culprit is a tiny metal shard contaminating the cell during the manufacturing process, the root cause may never be definitively proved because of destruction from the thermal runaway.
 
2013-02-18 05:54:35 PM

Ivo Shandor: Doktor_Zhivago: Lithium ion (or just plain lithium) batteries usually only catch fire if you really fark something up*, like not protecting against over voltage/current or wiring them in parallel instead of series, or somehow shorting the contacts (a battery with no load is a very bad thing**). So the issue is not the batteries.

I guess you missed this section of the article:

Forensic work by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the battery fire in early January on an empty 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston started with a short circuit inside one of the battery's eight cells.

Battery experts caution that while the most likely culprit is a tiny metal shard contaminating the cell during the manufacturing process, the root cause may never be definitively proved because of destruction from the thermal runaway.


Damnit! I can't be expected to read the article.  /shame
 
2013-02-18 06:19:51 PM
I doubt the FAA will sign off on a containment box. Its po$$ible but I gue$$ that depend$ on how ¢onvin¢ing Boeing ¢an be.
 
2013-02-18 06:23:56 PM
Surpheon: Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.

I don't see how anyone can steal the plans, it's not like it has been broken out to dozens of businesses in a bunch of different countries.

/Looking forward to flying the new Air China 878.
 
2013-02-18 06:26:45 PM

ha-ha-guy: We ran two suppliers into bankruptcy just trying to design prototype batteries for the Volt.


You ran a lot more suppliers than that into bankruptcy.

"Hi, we're from GM and we demand a 30% discount on your 5% profit items we buy from you."
 
2013-02-18 06:55:15 PM

SpectroBoy: I may be giving Boeing too much credit here, but I am assuming that the batteries are there for some reason other than ballast.


On planes that I'm familiar with (not many) the batteries only serve to start the plane on the tarmac and then to provide emergency backup power in the event that all on-board power generation is lost. Under normal operation the power necessary to fly the aircraft is generated from the turbines themselves. Even then, batteries aren't normally powerful enough to start the main engines so the battery actually starts a smaller intermediate generator which can then be used to start the main engines. The smaller intermediate power unit is also capable of fully powering the aircraft.

I know a few Boeing engineers, and they're not stupid or corrupt. They wouldn't propose this if they didn't feel it was decently safe to do so
 
2013-02-18 07:03:13 PM

Lunchlady: ha-ha-guy: I feel bad for Boeing.  The auto industry learned long ago that a battery supplier is lying whenever his mouth his moving.  They all promise you the world and then end up supplying batteries that explode and shower your entire team with nasty chemicals.  It's still a very young and immature industry.  All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems.  The battery industry just doesn't seem ready to meet the tolerances of jets yet.

/In 2010 through 2011 it seemed like every week we were suing a different supplier over defective batteries and a different supplier was going bankrupt after losing a lawsuit

This is what happen when you outsource to the lowest bidder. Boeing is getting what they deserve with this entire project.


The outsourcing wasn't just to get the lowest price, but to get as many countries behind the 787 as possible. Just like defense contractors try to get as many states involved in building a warplane, etc, multinational companies need to get as many countries involved in their products. It's not a coincidence that the Japanese airlines are buying a ton of 787's (they make a lot of the composites after-all). In terms of the made in China bits, China will be a huge market for the 787. Airbus can have Europe, Boeing will have Asia.

It still sucks and it still results in an inferior product, but they aren't as dumb as everyone here thinks.
 
2013-02-18 07:21:47 PM
Glad to hear they're using titanium but magnesium is even lighter.
 
2013-02-18 07:23:29 PM
So, let me get this straight - they don't know exactly what the problem is, so they are going to try and jimmy rig it so the plane hopefully won't fall out of the sky if it happens again?  I don't know about anyone else here, but I don't want to wonder if my plane may or may not lose power when we are cruising at 36k feet.  Boeing is apparently willing to risk the lives of passengers in order to make a few extra bucks. They have sacrificed their soul at the altar of the almighty dollar..   They really should resolve the issue before putting the planes back in the air.  This isn't exactly a problem akin to the toilet paper dispenser not working properly.  No TP isn't going to bring the plane down.  This?  Who knows.
 
2013-02-18 07:32:00 PM

Surpheon: ha-ha-guy: All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems

Boeing outsourced a bunch of the design and it bit them in the ass. The suits who had a boner for breaking the engineer's union seemed to think that just because the batteries were good for their satellite use they'd be OK on planes. (Sats have a one-time traumatic launch vibration and shock, planes vibrated thousands of hours every year.)

Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.


I'm not sure they will get over it.  We don't know what other issues with the plane design will come up.  Meanwhile, they've destroyed any functional design-to-manufacture systemic organization they ever had and it will be enormously expensive to figure out where to go from here.  We're watching in slow-motion a classic self-made corporate catastrophe.
 
2013-02-18 09:38:07 PM

Ivo Shandor: theurge14: Batteries?  Isn't there wind power available up there?

Wind power is available.


They'd still be missing out on a huge potential power source. They could install seats with built-in bicycle pedal generators. With so many passengers just sitting around with nothing else to do, they'll have the plane back up and running in no time at all.
 
2013-02-18 09:40:16 PM

Pumpernickel bread: Boeing is apparently willing to risk the lives of passengers in order to make a few extra bucks. They have sacrificed their soul at the altar of the almighty dollar..


I don't know about the 787 specifically, but the battery is typically not the primary source of power. Like the alternator in your car, planes have onboard generators that produce the energy that is necessary.
 
2013-02-18 10:05:00 PM
Based on Boeing's outsourcing strategy I would check those rosary beads, they might have been on a shipment of Ben Wa balls.
 
2013-02-18 10:55:52 PM
One of the Aurora solar cars battery packs caught fire during a race and the highway patrolman wouldn't let the driver get the special fire extinguisher from the car to put out the fire and decided to use the other one even after he was told it would be a very bad idea.  Li-ion battery fire + water + magnesium wheels = very expensive mess in the desert.  It was apparently a very impressive fire.
 
2013-02-18 10:57:35 PM

Fubini: SpectroBoy: I may be giving Boeing too much credit here, but I am assuming that the batteries are there for some reason other than ballast.

On planes that I'm familiar with (not many) the batteries only serve to start the plane on the tarmac and then to provide emergency backup power in the event that all on-board power generation is lost. Under normal operation the power necessary to fly the aircraft is generated from the turbines themselves. Even then, batteries aren't normally powerful enough to start the main engines so the battery actually starts a smaller intermediate generator which can then be used to start the main engines. The smaller intermediate power unit is also capable of fully powering the aircraft.

I know a few Boeing engineers, and they're not stupid or corrupt. They wouldn't propose this if they didn't feel it was decently safe to do so


I doubt most planes(of this size) don't have batteries for this kind of application. The back ups are typically the APU and the ram air turbine. Smaller business jets and general aviation tend to be more reliant in batteries.

I don't think it takes that much electrical power to relight an engine.
 
2013-02-18 11:47:33 PM

Fubini: I know a few Boeing engineers, and they're not stupid or corrupt. They wouldn't propose this if they didn't feel it was decently safe to do so


But management, like at NASA, don't Osteen to engineers when they raise the alarm.

Thank goodness the 787 doesn't have SRBs and o-rings.
 
2013-02-19 12:03:10 AM

derpy: buy American!

Boeing is getting to be the new Chrysler


Before or after they move production to Right to Work [for less] states?
 
2013-02-19 12:08:00 AM

Lunchlady: ha-ha-guy: I feel bad for Boeing.  The auto industry learned long ago that a battery supplier is lying whenever his mouth his moving.  They all promise you the world and then end up supplying batteries that explode and shower your entire team with nasty chemicals.  It's still a very young and immature industry.  All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems.  The battery industry just doesn't seem ready to meet the tolerances of jets yet.

/In 2010 through 2011 it seemed like every week we were suing a different supplier over defective batteries and a different supplier was going bankrupt after losing a lawsuit

This is what happen when you outsource to the lowest bidder. Boeing is getting what they deserve with this entire project.


That said, I wonder how much of that battery-related work was done in South Carolina.
 
2013-02-19 12:41:43 AM
*places limit order to buy Boeing stock*

*whistles nonchalantly*
 
2013-02-19 02:55:58 AM
Subby Boeing tries to win back dissatisfied 787 customers with quick fix for fiery battery problem. Fix includes heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box around battery cells, high-pressure evacuation tubes, and complete set of used rosary beads

Pants legs?
 
2013-02-19 03:04:22 AM
This sounds much like what you would do if you had a nuclear power source on the plane.
 
2013-02-19 06:38:22 AM

The_Homeless_Guy: Lunchlady: ha-ha-guy: I feel bad for Boeing.  The auto industry learned long ago that a battery supplier is lying whenever his mouth his moving.  They all promise you the world and then end up supplying batteries that explode and shower your entire team with nasty chemicals.  It's still a very young and immature industry.  All that said, I'm still amazed how Boeing never bothered to ask around and discover all the problems.  The battery industry just doesn't seem ready to meet the tolerances of jets yet.

/In 2010 through 2011 it seemed like every week we were suing a different supplier over defective batteries and a different supplier was going bankrupt after losing a lawsuit

This is what happen when you outsource to the lowest bidder. Boeing is getting what they deserve with this entire project.
The outsourcing wasn't just to get the lowest price, but to get as many countries behind the 787 as possible. Just like defense contractors try to get as many states involved in building a warplane, etc, multinational companies need to get as many countries involved in their products. It's not a coincidence that the Japanese airlines are buying a ton of 787's (they make a lot of the composites after-all). In terms of the made in China bits, China will be a huge market for the 787. Airbus can have Europe, Boeing will have Asia.

It still sucks and it still results in an inferior product, but they aren't as dumb as everyone here thinks.




With the 787 Boeing bet the future of air travel is spoke to spoke travel and not hub to hub. Airbus made a safer bet with the A380 as a more conventional huge passenger mover but still has a better fleet of smaller planes than Boeing. The transpacific, transatlantic and transasia routes move large amounts of people and without a 747 replacement Boeing will be forcing carriers into the arms of Airbus. Are there enough smaller carriers (an Airbus strength) to keep Boeing afloat in the next thirty years without even more government help?
 
2013-02-19 07:09:50 AM

Surpheon: Boeing will get over it, and the 787 places them firmly ahead of the competition for a decade. Unless their design work is stolen (entirely possible), this is some awfully valuable education.


About that decade....
This is the competition's answer to the 787, getting ready for flight testing later this year. The 787 was delayed so long that lost any lead they might have had.
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-02-19 08:51:04 AM

Dudley_Nightsoil: Great idea. Put batteries in heavier box, negating any advantage of lighter batteries. How about a more robust current limiting circuit?


^ This
 
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