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787 fiasco: I'm not flying in a fucking plastic plane that catches on fire if THEY CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY IT CATCHES FIRE!

What's wrong with these people?

Boeing will propose to regulators as early as this week a short-term fix to bolster the 787's defenses in case of battery fires such as those that have kept the jet grounded for a month.

The goal is to help out Boeing's cash flow get the planes flying passengers again, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter, while Boeing works on a comprehensive redesign of the lithium-ion battery system that could take nine months or more to implement.

The interim fix includes a heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box around the battery cells, and high-pressure evacuation tubes that, in the event of a battery fire, would vent any gases to the outside of the jet.

Boeing's approach implicitly acknowledges that four weeks after two batteries overheated -- one catching fire on the ground, the other smoldering in flight -- investigators have still not pinpointed the cause.

That leaves Boeing little option for now but to engineer a solution that will better contain any such incident and protect the airplane.

Dear Lord.

For one thing, it's a classic example of devolution: Boeing used to be able to solve engineering problems, before the MBA's started busting the unions and outsourcing everything.

For another, it's a classic case of shifting risk from Boeing's owners onto the rest of us poor schlubs. In a way, it's a lot like Obama's Mortgage settlement, which seems a percentage of failures compliant; in the one case, it's "Oh, it's just a few thousand homes being stolen from people by banksters"; in the other, it's "Oh, it's just a few planes catching fire that we never take anyhow."

Yes, the people who take executive planes and private jets have nothing at all to worry about, ever, so what's not to like?

NOTE Yes, I know composites are not "plastic" per se; permissible hyperbole in a headline.

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Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

In a single sentence - it's tough to investigate a failure when all the evidence burns up. Lithium is highly reactive, and so it burns really hot, and right through just about anything. It's chemically similar to phosphorous in that way.

Apparently, the way the systems are designed on the 787, the backup power system has to provide current more quickly than other batteries can provide. LiON isn't the only answer, but it's usually a good one.

There have been all sorts of delays due to the extensive outsourcing of the 787, and more than a few problems. I don't know if this is one of them or not. Yuasa would probably have been the vendor anyway, assuming a hypothetical Seattle-based Boeing had decided to use LiON. There aren't a whole lot of alternatives.

[Disclosure: I'm a former Boeing employee from the good old days, long, long ago.]