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Electronics & Test

Boeing: New Enclosure 'Keeps Us From Ever Having a Fire'

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apresher
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Boeing's Woes
apresher   3/15/2013 3:28:32 PM
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Chuck,  Outstanding report and thanks for keeping us up-to-date on the latest developments with this.  This is an important story and hopefully Boeing is close to putting this issue to rest. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Boeing's Woes
Charles Murray   3/15/2013 5:42:30 PM
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Yes, Al, it's important for Boeing to regain some confidence that's been lost as a result of this incident. This is going to be watched carefully for some time to come because of lithium-ion's prominent place in the auto industry.

tekochip
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Sounds like a Bandaid
tekochip   3/16/2013 9:17:24 AM
So he didn't say what they've done to prevent failure, just the improvements that have been made in the event of a failure.


williamlweaver
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Platinum
Eliminates the Possibility
williamlweaver   3/16/2013 9:17:46 AM
According to Snopes.com even as reports of the Titanic disaster began to reach America early in the morning of 15 April 1912, the Vice-President of the White Star Line in New York stated, without qualification, "We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe that the boat is unsinkable."

And 100 years later, we have from Mike Sinnett, Boeing Co. Vice-President and Chief Engineer of the 787 program, "This enclosure keeps us from ever having a fire to begin with. That's the number one job of this enclosure. It eliminates the possibility of fire."

With that, Vice-President Mike Sinnett should turn in any Engineering credentials he claims to have. And to get them back, he needs to take a mandatory High School-level course in Statistics and Probability. This is the same road taken by NASA when the administrators stopped being Scientists and Engineers and turned 100% Politicians. This goes in the same category as Politicians who claim on the stump, "We have passed a law restricting everyone's liberty that will ensure that this tragedy will never happen again."

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." - Mark Twain.

Greg M. Jung
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Thermal Management
Greg M. Jung   3/16/2013 10:01:46 PM
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What can also be done to prevent thermal runaway?  Is there a way to slow down this event if it ever occurs?  I agree that fire prevention is a good thing, but what is the strategy for heat management?

TJ McDermott
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Re: Sounds like a Bandaid
TJ McDermott   3/17/2013 1:07:54 PM
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@Tekochip:

Charles noted that Boeing's done several things to prevent POSSIBLE failure modes.  Adding insulation can't hurt, I suppose.  The addition of locking fasteners implies that they weren't locking fasteners in the original design.  I thought aerospace construction was all about locking fasteners, or locking wires on the fasteners?

You're right though, all of the new features of these batteries sounds like bandaids.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Eliminates the Possibility
TJ McDermott   3/17/2013 1:15:29 PM
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@williamweaver:

  You've made three very appropriate historical references.  Harsh ones to be sure, but they definitely apply.  I'm surprised Mr. Sinnett actually made such absolute statements.

One wonders if his speech was written for him. 

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Failure is the new norm
TJ McDermott   3/17/2013 1:26:27 PM
@williamweaver made reference to NASA (the way attitudes brought to reality the Columbia accident).  Mr. Sinnett in his teleconference proved Boeing is taking exactly the same path: he tries to justify the battery incidents by saying lots of battery incidents have already occurred, that battery incidents are somehow the norm rather than the exception.  NASA did the same thing by accepting again and again insulating foam liberation events as normal when in fact ANY foam liberation violated launch specifications and should have been investigated.

Instead, such incidents were accepted as routine up until Columbia was fatally damaged.  NASA had a rude reality rubbed in its nose when a projectile test showed exactly what happened to Columbia.  almost 2 years of redesign later, to NASA's horror,  on the very first return-to-flight launch a very large piece of foam liberated from the external tank.  Luckily for them, it happened well after the time in which it could cause damage.  NASA thought they had all bases covered, so they had to go back to the drawing boards again.

Mr. Sinnett has set himself and Boeing up for more failure with the words used in his teleconference.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Root Cause!
TJ McDermott   3/17/2013 1:36:22 PM
The last two paragraphs in Charles' article are the most disturbing of all.  Sinnett acknowledges Boeing does not yet know root cause of the battery incidents and may never know.

I'd like to use expletives in a response to Mr. Sinnett.  NASA spent hundreds of millions of dollars in testing and redesign to protect the lives of the approximately 200 astronauts that flew after the Columbia accident.  MILLIONS of airline passengers will fly on 787s, and they say they may never know the root cause?

That is unnacceptable.  The two battery incidents occurred within weeks of each other.  As @williamweaver noted, it is statistically certain it will happen again if they don't discover root cause.  It should not be that difficult for Boeing and its battery supplier to run tests until they get a similar failure.

We're putting our lives in the hands of the FAA - let us hope they tell Boeing that the redesign is a good start, but they must find the root cause before the planes carry passengers again.

I live in metro-Seattle; this grounding is only going to hurt the economy here if they can't get the planes back in the air.  But I do not want them flying based on what we've learned from Mr. Sinnett's teleconference.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Root Cause!
Dave Palmer   3/18/2013 8:39:28 AM
@TJ McDermott: I agree. To say with certainty that you've eliminated a failure mode when you haven't even established the root cause is to invite calamity. On the other hand, if this is the kind of "thinking," or rather lack of thinking, that is going on at Boeing, then it's easier to understand how this problem occurred in the first place... or why the 787 program ended up so far over budget, overweight, and behind schedule. If you respond to every problem you encounter by adding additional features to make your product more "robust" rather than identifying and solving the root cause, you are guaranteed to make things more expensive, heavier, and more complex, but not necesesarily any less failure prone. In fact, the added complexity may make the system more failure prone.

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