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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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