United Airlines Puts Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Back in Service
May 20, 2013 2:52 PM
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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
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.
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.
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RE: The sweet smell of roses.
5/21/2013 2:06:40 AM
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
, 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.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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