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.
Since we were in transit yesterday, here are a number of articles that are a day late in being posted here.
Boeing 787: New York Times: Setback in Boeing’s Hope for Longer Range
Puget Sound Business Journal: Steve Wilhelm has a looonnngg profile of Ray Conner and the 787 crisis.
Boeing 777X: Upgrade urged at Boeing names new program chief. Note: Tim Clark of Emirates is previously quoted as saying Boeing will begin offering the 777X within two-three weeks. We confirmed this with a second airline fleet planner during our trip this week.
Airbus A350-800: We checked with a customer, who tells us it hasn’t heard anything from Airbus about canceling the program.
Bombardier CSeries: Several articles following the “reveal” of Flight Test Vehicles 1, 2, 3, 4 on Thursday.
Analysts react to CSeries roll out. (This story has several links of its own.)
Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, appeared today at the JP Morgan aerospace conference.
Here is a running synopsis:
Ray Conner (RC)
Joe Nadol (JN) of JP Morgan:
RC: It’s important to recognize that batteries are not used in flight. They are back-up to start the APU and for the systems. After events, put together 200 engineers. Have done 200,000 hours of analysis. Have come up with comprehensive solution and presented to FAA on Feb. 22 and last week to Japan.
- This is not just a Boeing-type of solution. We’ve worked with a number of people outside Boeing to ID causal factors and run by them and did the same with potential solutions.
- That’s what we presented to FAA.
- We’ve provided different layers of protection for fixes.
- Hope to see approval of certification plans and then move into certification testing.
- We would not go forward unless we thought we had it nailed.
As if the Boeing 787 problems weren’t enough of a headache for the company, the second vote by its engineers will be counted tomorrow on a contract offer.
SPEEA members rejected the first contract offer from Boeing in October with a 96% vote. Boeing subsequently agreed to extend the current SPEEA contract provisions except for all issues related to the pension. The headline issue on this section is that Boeing wants to shift from a defined benefit retirement plan to a defined contribution plan. SPEEA says this results in a 40% reduction in benefits; Boeing says it’s less than that but still significant.
Boeing points out that all non-union employees are on a defined contribution plan and new hires for the unions should be, too. Current members would retain the defined benefit plan.
Boeing hopes this split approach will be enough to win approval for the new contract offer.
Also being voted on: whether members will grant SPEEA negotiations authorization to call a strike should the contract be rejected. Executive Director Ray Goforth has already said negotiators would not call an immediate strike, but they will seek a return to the bargaining table.
[Reuters has this article profiling Goforth.]
The hazard is that Boeing could withdraw its “Best and Final Offer” on all the other issues it agreed to and seek to renegotiate the entire contract rather than just the pension issues. Of course, this would incense union members and make a settlement ultimately that much more difficult.
Boeing needs the engineers to resolve the issues surrounding the 787, and to return the plane to service–the number one priority of 2013, says CEO Jim McNerney. The development programs of the 787-10 and 777X can wait (and, according to our information, these have been pushed to the right as a result of the 787 issues). Management’s lead engineer, Mike Delaney, basically said SPEEA members aren’t needed–that Boeing can rely on other engineers to resolve the 787 problems, a statement that went over like the proverbial screen door in a submarine.
In a webcast for SPEEA, Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, played the patriotic card, according to those who listened to it, by saying a strike would hurt customers and aid Airbus. (Boeing traditionally doesn’t comment on internal employee communications.)
We think the vote will be close, though we don’t know how to define it other than we don’t expect margins to remotely reflect the 96% rejection last October or the 85% rejection by IAM 751 in 2006 (and a similar strike vote). As we’ve talked to people, the sentiment seemed fairly evenly split with a tilt toward rejection and a strike vote.
Unlike IAM 751, which needs a two-thirds vote to strike, SPEEA needs only 50% plus one.
Votes will be counted tomorrow, Feb. 19; results will be known tomorrow night.
The Federal Aviation Administration today launched a review of the Boeing 787′s electrical system.
We start our coverage with a running synopsis of the press conference at 9:30am ET. Presenting are
Michael Huerta, director of the FAA (MH);
Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary (RLH); and
Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (RC).
- #1 priority is protecting the safety of the traveling public.
- We go the extra mile when it comes to safety.
- Today we are conducting a comprehensive review of the design and production of the 787, covering critical systems of the aircraft, including design, production and assembly.
- Will look for the root causes of the recent issues be sure it doesn’t happen again.
- FAA spent 200,000 hrs in advance of certifying aircraft.