Print 10 comment(s) - last by DarkUltra.. on May 21 at 4:49 PM

United Flight 1 flew from Houston to Chicago today at 11:13 a.m.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has had a rough year so far, but things seem to be turning around as United Airlines puts the grounded jet back in the air. 

United Flight 1 flew from Houston to Chicago today at 11:13 a.m. and landed around 1:36 p.m. United Airlines is the only U.S. operator that flies the 787. 

Now, United Airlines, Qatar Airways Ltd., Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise and Air India Ltd. are the only carriers who are flying their 787s commercially again. 

This is a big step for the 787, considering it has been grounded for three months after having several issues earlier this year. 

It started with a 787 operated by Japan Airlines, which had experienced an electrical fire at Boston's Logan International Airport after coming in from Tokyo. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a battery in the auxiliary power unit suffered severe fire damage.

One day later, a Boeing 787 operated by the same airline at the same airport suffered a fuel leak.

a 787 Dreamliner with All Nippon Airways (ANA), which had arrived at the Matsuyama airport in western Japan from Tokyo on Friday, developed a web-like crack in the cockpit window. That same day, another 787 Dreamliner with ANA had an oil leak after traveling to the Miyazaki airport in southern Japan. 

Finally, an ANA 787 flight to Tokyo had an issue with its main battery only 15 minutes into a 90-minute flight. After 40 minutes, a burning smell made its way into the cabin and cockpit, and the plane made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport on the southern island of Shikoku. This issue caused all 787s to be grounded in Japan, the U.S. and India until a safety investigation was conducted and the problems were corrected.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally approved of the idea to encase 787 lithium ion batteries in a steel box, add a duct to vent gases outside the aircraft and install new battery chargers. Last month, Boeing installed the batteries on five ANA jets and started test flights this month. 

ANA, Japan Airlines Co. and LOT Polish Airlines SA will start flying 787s commercially the first week of June. There's no exact date when Latam Airlines Group SA will do the same. 

Source: Bloomberg

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Had no idea...
By Iketh on 5/20/2013 5:57:52 PM , Rating: 2
Had no idea United was the only US carrier with 787s so far. Gonna try to board one on my next flight. Surely they have one servicing Atlanta-Los Angeles?

RE: Had no idea...
By inperfectdarkness on 5/20/2013 6:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
How many US carriers are left?...

RE: Had no idea...
By Samus on 5/20/2013 11:35:53 PM , Rating: 2
LOL what? We have more airlines than any other country.

RE: Had no idea...
By inperfectdarkness on 5/21/2013 1:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
You can dispense with all the regional carriers. Almost all of them won't be using jets with the range of the 787. In fact, I doubt almost any regional carrier would prefer the 787 over the venerated 737.

That really just leaves Delta, United and American as the only passenger airlines in the USA that actually would be in the market for the 787.

Sure, we still have a lot of airlines:

But we've gone a long ways from the days when we had Piedmont, US Air, TWA, Pan-AM, etc.

RE: Had no idea...
By RU482 on 5/21/2013 4:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
Oh my, you've never been to a Chinese airport, have you?

The sweet smell of roses.
By drycrust3 on 5/20/2013 6:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
add a duct to vent gases outside the aircraft

It seems ironic that the exact thing that alerted the pilots of one flight to a problem, the smell, is also the exact thing this stops.
My guess is the addition of the duct is the better option, but I hope there has been additional protection to alert the pilots in the event of gases by being vented by any overcharged cells.

RE: The sweet smell of roses.
By robert5c on 5/20/2013 8:29:20 PM , Rating: 2
"...had an issue with its main battery only 15 minutes into a 90-minute flight. After 40 minutes, a burning smell made its way into the cabin and cockpit, and the plane made an emergency landing..."

they had warnings and indications of problems 25 minutes before the smell.
also, according to this article:
, they have done more then just vent. Probably more then that article details in terms of sensors and alerts.

By homebredcorgi on 5/21/2013 2:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
Boeing has done a miserable PR job since day one on this and continue to miss key points that could reassure the public.

They re-designed the battery by adding more space between each cell and adding more insulation between cells. This makes it much more difficult for one cell to burn up and ignite the others.

Then they encased the whole thing in a sealed steel box with vents for outgassing. This deprives the battery of oxygen and makes it near impossible for an overheating cell to actually catch fire (in a test, they shorted a cell inside this box and found that a fire couldn't be sustained). Then if all of that somehow fails, the gas still gets vented outside and the steel box can contain all of the energy from the fire.

I am confident that this is no longer a safety issue. However, it is irritating that they may never find the root cause of the problems. Even more annoying is Boeing's terrible "just trust us" PR campaign from the start.

I would hope Boeing learned a valuable lesson on outsourcing. Yes, this is an item that would normally be outsourced for manufacturing, but in this case Boeing also outsourced the mechanical design and testing to the suppliers. In the end, nobody cares that it was a supplier issue, they just see "Boeing" on the plane.

I'll bet they know more about these batteries than the supplier does now.

By 737drvr on 5/21/2013 5:45:16 AM , Rating: 2
All airplanes have issues that arise during their service life. Some early, some later, but the constant is that ALL airplanes have issues. The Dreamliner will be a new paradigm that will change 'long haul' flying. Too bad the author couldn't find the correct logo for United Continental Holdings, UAL.

RC folks ha
By DarkUltra on 5/21/2013 4:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
- "The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally approved of the idea to encase 787 lithium ion batteries in a steel box, add a duct to vent gases outside the aircraft and install new battery chargers."

RC folks have done this for years now with their lithium polymer batteries. The batteries have almost zero internal resistance so if they go critical or are overcharged they can burn very hot.

We store them in fireproof vented containers and a circuit that charges and balances each cell individually in a pack.

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