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Boeing normalizes mass travel in planes with batteries that catch fire


Boeing in the dark over 787 battery fires
Boeing on Monday admitted it may never be established why batteries failed [that is, caught fire]* on two of its high-tech Dreamliner aircraft, as work began to fix the safety problem that grounded the company’s wide-body passenger jet. ...

[T]he US Federal Aviation Administration on Friday approved Boeing’s proposed fix for the battery, in a move that is likely to mean the Dreamliner resumes commercial service in May or June.

We're going to spread the battery cells further apart, put a bigger box around them, and vent the box. So if -- and by "if" I mean when -- a battery does catch fire, nothing bad will happen. This in a plane where for the first time the "flight surfaces" are electrically actuated. Maybe I'm too paranoid, but it feels to me like we've gone from "What can go wrong?" to "What can't we kludge?" It's as if, when the the Comet exploded in mid-air, Dehaviland decided to put giant rubber bands round the fuselage instead of running the exhaustive study that determined the cause was metal fatigue. So WTF?

And maybe I'm too cynical, but when the history of the 777 is written, I'd bet "the cause" will be found to be some combination of Boeing wanting to bust its unions and failure to manage a global supply chain it tried to substitute for craft on the shop floor.

NOTE * IIRC, the planes were supposed to be able to fly millions of hours before a battery failed. They flew some tens of thousands. Come on!

NOTE **The real issue here, which the article does not touch on (Google the headline to read it) is not whether the 777 will be certified, but what range it will be certified for. As in, what happens when a battery catches on fire inside its new box over the Pacific?

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