Here are some links to stories. Day 2 continues today. Webcast at NTSB.gov.
Odds and Ends: Cybersecurity and aviation; lithium-ion batteries; WA worries about SC; Porter Airlines
Cybersecurity threat to aviation: Addison Schonland at AirInsight has been working on a project related to cybersecurity and the threat to aviation. He’s posted this article that raises serious issues.
Lithium-Ion Batteries: On the eve of the NTSB two-day forum on lithium-ion batteries, Reuters has a think-piece about these batteries in general: uses in cars and other products, for example. It’s been a 10-year research project by battery designers. Quite an interesting article.
WA worries about SC: The Seattle Times writes that Washington State officials are worried about the latest expansion by Boeing in South Carolina.
In advance of Porter CSeries order: A lot of Tweeting from an aerospace writer in Canada:
See new polling below the jump.
Two back-to-back press conferences last week are clearly the beginning of Boeing’s effort to rebuild confidence in the beleaguered 787 and confidence in the 787 and Boeing brands, which have taken big hits following the grounding of the worldwide fleet January 16.
The airplanes have been on the ground for two months and two days. Boeing says it hopes the grounding order will be lifted by the FAA within weeks. Clearly, Boeing will be ready if the tests currently underway validate the series of fixes it’s worked out. We’re not as sanguine about the timing, if only because the FAA has never been known for its speed, because Ray LaHood, Secretary of the Department of Transportation of which the FAA is a part, painted himself and the FAA into a corner with his silly “1,000%” remark, and because of uncertainty of how the Japanese and European regulatory authorities will respond to the fixes.
But we will acknowledge that Boeing has worked with the FAA’s Seattle office to find solutions, so review in Washington (DC) is not as if officials there are starting “blind.” But we can’t help but think that given the spotlight on the FAA’s certification process from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA’s own declaration that it will review its procedures in certifying the airplane battery in the first place that a go-slow pace will prevail.
As someone whose business and experience also include communications, we found Boeing’s two press conferences to be well-done beginning efforts on rebuilding the brand. The press conferences were lengthy and there were tough questions at each.
The problem, if you want to call it that, is that the journalists are not engineers and while they asked some tough questions, some of the information is probably over their heads. But skepticism was evident.
Andy Pasztor of the Wall Street Journal challenged Boeing on its view there wasn’t a thermal runaway as others said, including the National Transportation Safety Board. Boeing’s representatives took the view that a thermal runaway had to threaten the airplane, and what occurred did not, so it wasn’t a thermal runaway. The NTSB and others believe a thermal runaway is a thermal runaway and that’s that–along the lines if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it’s a duck.
A press release detailing 787 battery solutions outlined in Boeing’s Thursday’s Tokyo press conference is here.
Press coverage from last night’s briefing:
Boeing today held a special question-and-answer session follow-up to the Tokyo press conference. Ron Hinderberger, Vice President, 787-8 Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, is the representative. A running synopsis:
The FAA recently approved certification plan, part of a comprehensive process that is an important milestone. The FAA has approved the changes and we will have a series of ground and flight tests and a series of analyses to lead to certifying the airplane.
[Recaps the changes described at the Tokyo press conference.]
Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Mike Fleming, VP and Chief Engineer for EIS of the 787 and Mike Sinnett, vice president and chief project engineer for the Boeing 787, provided an update on the battery fix during a visit to Japan today (or tomorrow, Japan time….)
Here is a running brief of comments:
RC Ray Conner
MF Mike Fleming
MS Mike Sinnett
RC: US FAA has a comprehensive process we must follow to get airplanes into the air for testing and for re-EIS.
We’re here this week to discuss our solution and to take feedback from Japanese authorities, The solution is the result of thousands of hours of tests within Boeing and with other agencies.
We acknowledge the work of the Japanese regulators and GSD Yuasa and have been a tremendous partner throughout this process. I speak for the 170,000 employees of Boeing when we say that the safety of our product is the #1 priority of the company, ahead of everything else we do.
We have three layers of solutions and we are confident these are the right ones.
MS: (Going through the PDF slides linked above.) We understand that we do not have a business if we don’t have safety. Safety is the number one thing we think of in designing an airplane.
With 100 years of experience, we apply these lessons to each new airplane. We stand behind the integrity of each Boeing airplane.
The battery is only a backup in flight. It operates on the ground. The 787 is an electric jet, using two generators in combination producing one megawatt of electrical power. The APU also has two generators associated with it.
If in the unlikely event all generators and batteries fail, the Ram Air Turbine deploys. We don’t need the main battery in flight or the APU battery in flight for safety. The batteries operate the brakes on the ground and other ground-based functions.
The Li-Ion batteries technology was already mature technology for many applications, including aerospace (not commercial aerospace).
[Note: Bombardier reached a different conclusion, telling us that in 2009 when it had to make a decision on batteries that it was not satisfied with the Li-Ion technology, and therefore selected nickel-cadium.)
Li-Ion technology earned its way on to the 787.
We work very hard to design a system that will not fail Then we assume it will fail and provide redundancies or backups. We apply this design philosophy to every system on the airplane.