The Barefoot Bandit: In a nice break from all-787-all-the-time, we ran across this heart-warming story of a Boeing worker mentoring the infamous Barefoot Bandit. Colton Harris-Moore, a troubled teenager, spent two years on the run from the law and became famous for a series of burglaries, often barefoot, and thefts, including stealing boats and planes.
We know someone who has a second home on Camano Island and who befriended a young Harris-Moore before the crime sprees began. Our friend described the youth as extremely bright and, as the media has described, in a very troubled home situation. This friend often provided food to Harris-Moore and after crime sprees began, in which homes on Camano were burglarized, our friend’s home was skipped by Harris-Moore.
787 Test Fights: Two are planned this week, according to Reuters. See this story. Separately, The Wall Street Journal has two stories of note. The first is about Boeing’s effort to restore the brand. The second refers to the 787 situation but is a broader piece about fighting fires on airplanes. Both are via Google News so readers should be able to access each without the subscription.
Readers aren’t convinced that Boeing has turned the corner on the planned 787 battery fixes detailed last week in two press conferences.
The results come as some surprise to us. Despite some messaging we thought fell short, we felt overall Boeing outlined a pretty strong set of fixes that were done probably in concert with the FAA Seattle office. We published polling Monday; here are the results as of this morning. These are actually worse than our polling a month ago, when readers were evenly split whether they would resume flying the 787 when it returns to service.
Clearly, Boeing and the airlines have a job to do with public perception to restore confidence in the airplane.
These polls admittedly are not scientific.
Does Boeing have good solutions to the 787 battery issues?
|No, Boeing still hasn’t gone far enough||55%|
|Yes, the press conferences outlined good solutions||28%|
|I don’t know||17%|
Having heard or read the details, will you fly the 787 when it returns to service?
|Yes, I now have confidence in the 787 and the solution||34%|
|No, I still want to wait 1-2 years for proof||51%|
|Maybe–I’m not sure||15%|
When will the 787 return to revenue service?
|Weeks, like Boeing thinks||7%|
KING 5 News (Seattle, NBC) reported that the 787 test flight planned for yesterday did not happen, but had no explanation. An aerospace engineer we asked said, “I would gather that since this is a “one shot to get it right” flight, BA is being rather overly cautious. So I imagine it doesn’t take much for them to cancel a flight and wait for optimal conditions.”
Timing seems critical, however, if Boeing is to meet its goal of returning the 787 to service soon.
Reuters had this yesterday:
Boeing last week unveiled a new battery system and predicted the 787 would fly again within weeks rather than months.
Asked whether Boeing was presenting a best-case scenario, Osamu Shinobe, the architect of All Nippon Airways’ strategy to put the fuel-efficient 787 at the centre of the airline’s fleet planning, said, “That’s what we understand it to be.”
“The problem is we don’t know how long the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will take to finish its checks (on the new battery system),” he said in an interview.
For Boeing to meet its target, Shinobe explained the plane maker needs to complete certification testing this week, and gain quick FAA approval followed by an airworthiness directive soon after. It would then have to transport all the parts and equipment to 787s parked around the world to begin installing the new batteries. Boeing has said that could take a week per plane.
A side note: Weather conditions this week in the Seattle area are forecast to be pretty abysmal, with sometimes heavy rains and high winds. Whether this will be a factor for the test flight is unknown.
Bloomberg has this today:
Norwegian Air is among airlines affected by the idling of the global Dreamliner fleet on Jan. 16 in the wake of incidents with lithium-ion batteries. While Boeing has proposed a fix, it hasn’t given new delivery dates for planes the Oslo-based company should get from April, Kjos said in an interview.
“There’ll be a delay that hits us on the first two aircraft,” Kjos said. Norwegian Air has leased two Airbus SAS A340s to provide cover, one for two months, the other for three, during which time the 787s should arrive, he said.
This suggests NAS doesn’t expect its 787s until June or July at the earliest.
NTSB Report Comes Today: The National Transportation Safety Board issues its preliminary report on the Boeing 787 JAL fire today, around 11am ET. Here is the NTSB 787 page that has been updated throughout the process. We’re traveling and may not be able to pick up the report as it comes out, so Readers, please do so and post in Comments; we’ll upgrade to a fresh post when able.
FAA readies OK for 787 plan: The FAA is expected to give Boeing the green light to begin implementing its proposed plans to fix the 787 battery issues. We expect this approval to be Friday or next week. Extensive testing will be required, but the length remains unclear. The NTSB report may or may not have implications.
Ray LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation (the FAA is part of DOT), still has questions. See this Wall Street Journal article via Google News, so it should be readable to all. A key paragraph:
[P]ushback against a quick final decision from Mr. LaHood—who oversees the FAA and must sign off on any package of fixes—and from regulators in Japan threatens to delay the more important resumption of Dreamliner commercial flights for months, according to industry and government officials. (Emphasis added.)
A team of FAA technical experts is urging preliminary approval of Boeing’s plan, and FAA chief Michael Huerta appears likely to agree within a week or so, the officials said. That would establish a framework that could allow Boeing to begin test flights as soon as the third week in March. Results from those flights would have to be analyzed by agency officials and reviewed by Secretary LaHood and his staff before Boeing could seek permission to retrofit aircraft and seek new certification. Routine certification tests for batteries take four or five weeks, according to industry officials.
A350-800 future debated: Qatar Airways’ vociferous CEO, Akbar Al-Baker says Airbus is dropping the A350-800. Airbus says it’s not. (Also here.) Aeroturbopower has this interesting post on the subject.
Bombardier Reveals CSeries today: Bombardier will have its “reveal” of the CSeries today in a ceremony that isn’t quite a roll-out in the party-like fashion usually accompanying a new aircraft type. Rather, invited guests will visit the assembly line to see the completed aircraft. BBD isn’t taking the airplane off the production line so it doesn’t lose production time. The Wall Street Journal has this description via Google News.
LOT wants $$, Norwegian Leases A340s: The fall-out gets worse over the 787 grounding. LOT Airlines says it wants compensation by the end of June. TUI is rebooking passengers on Boeing 767s and will refund a price differential for those paying a premium to fly the 787. Norwegian Air is wet-leasing Airbus A340s to fill in for the 787s it was supposed to get.
Aeroturbopower has an interesting analysis of the Norwegian lease cost of the A343 v 788, including some admittedly speculative costs to Boeing.
In other news:
- Richard Aboulafia, noted aviation consultant for The Teal Group and an occasional consultant to Boeing (last job five years ago), predicts it could be 4-9 months before the 787 is back in revenue service. This is from the start of the grounding, not additional time. The prediction is in this article by Reuters.
- Aspire Aviation analyses the Australian aviation market.
Clues emerged from a variety of news reports following the meeting Friday between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that point to when the 787 will be able to reenter service.
The most tantalizing: Boeing will need up to eight weeks from the FAA green light before the 787 will return to service.
Since we don’t expect the FAA to approve proposed remedies any time soon (a relative term, to be sure), we think it could easily be May or June before the 787 returns to service. The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board isn’t likely until the first half of March. We believe the FAA will want to see and digest this report before drawing is own conclusions. It’s anybody’s guess how long it will take the FAA to review the NTSB findings and Boeing’s proposal.
Assuming the FAA concurs with the Boeing recommendations–which may or may not be a safe assumption–what kind of testing will the FAA require, both in the lab and in the air, and how long will this take? Only after all this would the FAA green light the fixes and the “up to eight weeks” timeline kick in.
Here are the key news articles and some key excerpts: