Problems with the Dreamliner battery
|May24-13, 12:15 PM||#120|
Problems with the Dreamliner battery
Friday, May 10, 2013
"Boeing has put forth a superior containment so that a fire won't spread to the rest of the plane," says MIT materials chemistry professor Donald Sadoway in a statement for the FlyersRights petition. "The question is this: How long are you willing to fly without full backup power on an aircraft that is 'fly by wire'?"
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PETITION TO US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT), FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) AND NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD (NTSB) RE SAFETY OF BOEING 787 BATTERIES OF FLYERSRIGHTS.ORG & AVIATION CONSUMER ACTION PROJECT
BY PAUL S. HUDSON, PRESIDENT OF FLYERSRIGHTS.ORG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AVIATION CONSUMER ACTION PROJECT, MEMBER OF FAA AVIATION RULEMAKING ADVISORY COMMITTEE
May 8, 2013
In January 2013, all Boeing 787 airliners were grounded due to overheating leading to fires and subsequent failure of lithium ion batteries used on this aircraft. 1
On January 18th DOT Secretary Ray LaHood stated, “Those planes won’t fly until we’re 1,000% sure they are safe to fly.”
On April 19th, while the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was still investigating the Boeing 787 battery fires, the FAA approved a Boeing proposed 787 battery fix, but indicated it was reviewing the three (3) hour distance from the nearest landing site that this aircraft is approved for. 2
FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger organization calls on DOT Secretary LaHood and the FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to require Boeing 787 be limited to no more that two hour(s) (ETOPS 120) from the nearest emergency landing site, unless its lithium ion batteries are replaced with a failsafe electrical power system proven to meet current FAA safety standards or until this aircraft has proven itself with at least 24 months of trouble free service. This is the standard used by the Joint Aviation Authorities in the 1990s to even consider allowing twin engine aircraft to be certified to fly up 3 hours from the nearest airport. 3
Lithium ion batteries have a long history of overheating, catching fire, exploding, and spewing molten metal. The two batteries used on the Boeing are large, over 60 lbs. Should they overheat and catch fire they could easily bring down the airliner, especially if it was not within easy reach of an airport available for an emergency landing. Moreover, industry wide certification standards for lithium ion batteries that are permanently installed do not currently exist. See Exhibit 1.
According to independent experts, the proposed Boeing battery fix that has received preliminary approval by the FAA is wholly inadequate to ensure the safety of the traveling public.
See Exhibit 2 (opinion of battery safety expert David Zuckerbrod);
Exhibit 3 (opinion of MIT materials professor Donald Sadoway;
Exhibit 4 (comments of former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo).
These known dangers have led the FAA to impose severe restrictions and outright bans on the use and carrying of lithium batteries much smaller than the 787 batteries on US airliners. 4.
Smoke and fire in US airliners is not unusual and causes about 250 emergency landings per year, and has resulted in 100% fatal crashes in the recent past . 5
The Boeing 787 is different from other airliners in that it requires five times the electric power of the present Boeing 777 to operate, has only two instead of four engines, and uses a battery known for its volatility and overheating.
Without robust testing that has yet to be done and without operational experience this fix is unproven as safe and should result at most in limited re-certification of the 787 for use only within 120 minutes of emergency landing facilities. Two hours would allow the Boeing 787 to fly transatlantic, nearly all overland routes, and many Pacific routes but not over the North Pole or trans Pacific or south Atlantic routes over 1,000 miles from a landing site.
From the limited information available, the Boeing fix does not appear to include:
a) any battery cooling apparatus at least in the rear section of the plane,
b) temperature gauges to warn pilots and ground monitoring of battery overheating or trigger cooling of overheating batteries, See Exhibit 2, 3.
Moreover, contrary to the Boeing assertions, battery fires would not necessarily be prevented by its venting system, and Boeing does not even contend that battery failure would be prevented by its band aid fix involving a containment vessel and insulation between cells.
The steel case that it claims will suppress a fire weighs 150 pounds thereby largely negating a principal advantage for using the lighter but highly volatile over older but safer cadmium batteries. See Exhibit 2, Zuckerbrod
Finally, a review of the NTSB April forum and investigative hearing transcripts and podcasts indicates:
a) the FAA has not done battery testing of the 787 battery at its tech center, but only on commonly shipped batteries in air cargo.
b) the FAA gave Boeing an extremely broad, if not unprecedented, Delegation of Authority (DOA) for the design, testing protocols, actual testing for the 787 battery certification without direct FAA supervision. Such broad based self regulation is problematic.
It raises a host of conflict of interest questions, possible self dealing and exposes the Boeing employees charged with testing and approving their employer’s products for safety to undue pressures.
It is particularly dangerous here given the known dangers of lithium ion batteries combined with the untested use of such large batteries to control the fly-by-wire Boeing 787 with five times the power requirements of its predecessor, the Boeing 777.
In March 2013 we asked the FAA and DOT Secretary LaHood to empanel a special advisory committee with outside battery experts and representatives of passenger and flight crews to review the battery fixes and testing proposed by Boeing and the certification procedures used, but received only silence from the DOT and FAA. See Exhibit 6.
NTSB Chair Hersman did respond and noted that a forum was scheduled and an investigative hearing was to be held on April 23-24 regarding the latest battery fire on a Boeing 787. But no passenger representatives were invited for participation. The Boeing fix has not been vetted by the battery technical community or the industry associations that normally recommend safety testing standards to government safety agencies. Nor have many of the technical details of the Boeing fix been publicly disclosed.
Accordingly, the lifting of the Boeing 787 grounding order to permit flights up to 3 hours from the nearest landing site is both premature while the NTSB is still investigating the cause of the 787 battery fires and does not meet the Secretary’s statement that the grounding will not be lifted until the aircraft is shown to be “1,000% ” safe.
Rather, the FAA should:
a) empanel an ad hoc advisory committee composed of battery safety experts not affiliated with Boeing or the FAA, together with stakeholder representatives of passengers and flight crews (those directly at risk), in addition to Boeing, airlines and aviation liability insurance carriers to make recommendations.
b) open a docket for public comment and post the full technical details of the Boeing proposed battery fix.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been touted as a revolutionary 21st Century airliner with unmatched fuel efficiency, passenger comfort and the capacity to fly to nearly any destination on Earth nonstop. But to realize this potential Boeing must be required to meet or exceed modern aviation safety standards that it has thus far failed to do.
1. FAA Emergency Air Worthiness Directive issued Jan. 16, 2013 after 787 battery fires on ground at Boston, and in air Jan. 14, 2013 in Japan, making four battery failures in one year or 52,000 hrs of operation vs Boeing’s prediction of one failure every 10 million hrs. of operation; Several other batteries replaced showing evidence of battery overheating, Aviation Herald Feb. 6, 2013; Boeing 787 had 5 incidents in 5 days .
3. ETOPS stands for extended operations for two engine aircraft; the Joint Aviation Authorities represent European civil aviation authorities. Normally, two engine aircraft must show trouble free service for 24 months before an application to fly over 2 hours from the nearest airport will be considered. Prior to the January 2013 grounding, the Boeing 787 had ETOPS 180 certification and Boeing has sought to increase this to ETOPS 330 (5 ½ hours from the nearest airport). See ETOPS, Wikipedia showing that the Joint Aviation Authorities vetoed a Boeing attempt to certify an earlier aircraft without operational experience.
4. Special conditions B787-8 airplane Lithium Ion battery installation FAA/Federal Register Oct. 11, 2007
5. E.g. Swissair Flight 111 (1998, Halifax fire due to flammable material in entertainment system caused crash killing 229 on board; UPS Flight 6 (Sept. 3, 2010 smoke in cockpit from cargo of Lithium Ion batteries crashed killing 2 person crew near Dubai, FAA then banned lithium Ion batteries on passenger jets as cargo and warned than Halon fire extinguishers ineffective for lithium ion battery fires. Other recent examples include American Airlines Eagle Flight 3773 July 20, 2012 emergency landing Peoria Ill., United 777-222 Nov. 2012 emergency landing at Gander Newfoundland; private jet carrying Ann Romney emergency landing in Denver Sept. 21, 2012 due to electrical fire; Sunway Airlines Mar. 13, 2013 in Ottawa. See gen. GAO report www.gao/atext/d0433.txt Oct. 2003.
|May24-13, 12:38 PM||#121|
Consumer Group, Battery Expert Question FAA Dreamliner Decision
So part of Boeing's battery fix is to not just to try to eliminate battery fires but also contain any that might break out. This means, in part, thermally insulating every lithium cobalt oxide cell within the battery's stainless steel container.
Zuckerbrod says he's impressed with the batteries' heavy duty stainless steel housing, which would contain any fire and vent fumes directly outside the plane. (On the other hand, adding in a heavy stainless steel box also cuts back on the main appeal of the batteries in the first place: their high energy density.)
However, Zuckerbrod also notes that insulation between battery cells -- electrically and thermally insulating each cell from one another and the box itself -- could pose a problem during regular use.
"As the cells are used they have to cool off," he says. "If you get above about 90 C or so, if the heat's contained and can't leak out, the battery may begin to self-heat and undergo a thermal runaway."
|May24-13, 01:01 PM||#122|
I believe we are witnessing the decline of American excellence in engineering. Or perhaps we are witnessing the decline of excellence in the American integration of engineering disiplines into complex products. Either way. the result will be the same.
|May24-13, 01:44 PM||#123|
Oh, you mean people could die? Maybe we should investigate this "as soon as possible."
Computed Tomography Scans of Boeing 787 APU Batteries
Solicitation Number: PUR130245
Agency: National Transportation Safety Board
Office: National Transportation Safety Board
Location: Acquisition Division
May 3, 2013
May 06, 2013 12:00 pm Eastern
...The NTSB is planning to conduct teardown examinations as soon as possible of several aircraft batteries similar to one involved in an aircraft incident. This urgent requirement is in support of accident investigation DCA13IA037 that occurred in Boston, MA. To facilitate those examinations, CT scans of these batteries and their subcomponents are required to non-destructively determine as much information as possible about those components. In addition, batteries and battery cells of the same type which have been subjected to known test conditions will also be scanned. These scans will be conducted both before and after the test conditions are applied. Since these batteries are of the lithium ion type and have substantial shipping restrictions (including a requirement for ground shipping only using specially qualified hazardous materials shippers which would cause a delay of several days to accommodate), these scans need to be conducted at a location close to Washington, D.C. to allow the NTSB to transport the battery to the contractor and thereby avoid shipping and other logistical complications. They must also be completed within the shortest timeframe possible to provide the fastest possible receipt of this information to avoid potential future accidents involving this type of aircraft battery. Since the FAA has recently approved a plan intended to result in the Boeing 787 being approved for a return to service, the information from these tests (and the CT scans required to support these tests) is needed as soon as possible. A scan report that documents items such as the x-ray source power used, x-ray focal spot size, detector used, integration time, number of views, image pixel size, slice thickness, total length scanned, number of slices, etc. is due no later than 10 days after the end of the scanning activity. The NTSB has a requirement for CT scanning services to begin on 5/6/2013. Therefore, this requirement is urgent.
The NTSB has a requirement for CT scans of eight (8) Boeing 787 batteries cells. In addition, the NTSB has a requirement for additional scanning work for up to 40 additional battery cells or their equivalent scanning effort to be used as needed at the discretion of the NTSB. The scanning work for the "up to 40 additional battery cells" will be conducted in two installments. The cells will first be scanned in a "before testing" configuration, and then scanned again after testing has been completed with the cells. Finally, the NTSB requires at least 2 digital radiographs per component (90 degrees apart)....
This is not a fresh solicitation but rather a continuation of a contract that was insufficiently funded.
|May24-13, 02:15 PM||#124|
Aviation Week comments on the NTSB solicitation:
Highlighting the continued concern in the aviation industry about lithium-ion battery technology, the NTSB mandated that the contract be issued to a local company, as the cells cannot be shipped via air cargo.
I feel my sense of reality slipping away. Everything is becoming a gray area, delegated to more or less of some accountless bureaucrat's distorted judgment of sufficiency. Engineering is now an opinion, not a science. I fear, if I open my eyes, aircraft will fall from the sky in flames, buildings will collapse and bridges on interstate highways will fall into rivers.
|May28-13, 09:05 PM||#125|
Japanese pilots voice concerns:
The association is “concerned about whether there will really be no adverse impact on other systems of the airplane if the battery goes wrong,” said Koichi Takamoto, the technical adviser of the group. Given Boeing’s claims about the minor role played by the batteries, the association called on the plane maker to conduct test flights without the lithium-ion batteries to prove its solutions are effective.
This is a serious deal. Japanese pilots aren't stupid and they obviously don't trust Boeing on this. I still haven't heard the story from the flight crew that made the emergency landing in Japan with a Dreamliner full of (toxic) smoke. Anybody awake out there? Or do you think this story's over? I don't.
|May31-13, 02:59 PM||#126|
Elton Cairns, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California Berkeley, calls for liquid cooling of 787 batteries. "We know for sure that the thermal management system needs to be changed, even if there was an externally caused short circuit." Cairns is a well-known expert in the battery community, having designed fuel cells for the Gemini space program, and having served at General Electric Research Laboratory, General Motors Research Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=260153
Analysis: Rethinking the lithium-ion battery revolution over cost, safety
|Jun5-13, 12:20 PM||#127|
JAL said the pressure sensor of the battery container in the plane showed a difference in air pressure between inside and outside during a safety check before departure, according to the media reports. The airline added that there was no abnormality found in the battery itself, the reports said. JAL was forced to use another aircraft for a flight scheduled from Tokyo to Beijing after it found a fault with an air pressure sensor in the Dreamliner's battery container, Kyodo News and Jiji Press said. The incident comes only a day after JAL and All Nippon Airways (ANA), the single biggest operator of 787s, put their full fleet of Dreamliners back into service following a four-month suspension due to battery problems. ...The difference in air pressure was put down to Boeing Co.'s faulty maintenance as two small holes on the container -- necessary for air ventilation to prevent overheating -- were mistakenly sealed when it repaired the battery system, Kyodo said citing JAL.
How do you say "panic" in Japanese? The battery "fix" was to vent the flaming lithium fumes outside the aircraft. That in itself was perposterous and everybody knows it. Now we learn that Boeing has problems even in effectively implementing their embarrassing kludge. Who at Boeing will fall on their sword for this? And what's next?
|Jun5-13, 01:35 PM||#128|
Japanese Pilots Worry About Repaired Boeing 787 Jets
By HIROKO TABUCHI and CHRISTOPHER DREW
New York Times
Akihiro Ota, the Japanese transport minister, rebuked Boeing and Japan Airlines on Tuesday for the latest blunder. That the companies “failed to take all possible safety measures is deplorable,” Mr. Ota told reporters.
“Boeing says that any battery fire will now go out on its own, so there’s no safety issue,” Mr. Nagasawa, the Japanese pilots’ union leader, said in an interview. “But that’s on paper. No pilot would ever want to keep flying with a fire on board, whether it’s in a metal box or not.”
Mr. Nagasawa said the pilots were also dismayed that Boeing did not adjust its cockpit displays to provide more substantial alerts if the batteries started to overheat.
|Jun5-13, 09:49 PM||#129|
Apologize in advance for jumping in here late and not necessarily reading every post in this interesting thread.
I saw the photo of the battery box and the equipment bay in the plane on Wikipedia ("Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery problems"). Sure seems like there is plenty of space in there. I have also read that the stainless steel containment box significantly increases the size and weight of the battery package.
So here is my question...
Why doesn't Boeing just punt the volatile lithium and put in NiMH or some other safer, but older, chemistry and get on with life?
They can replace the salt and pepper shakers in first class with the little bags if they need to get back a few pounds.
|787, batteries, lithium, power|
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