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Boeing battery solution may keep 787 grounded until 2014

MIT chemistry professor suggests Boeing switch from lithium-ion batteries to the heavier but safer nickel metal-hydride battery, a process that could take a year. (news.cnet.com) Plus d'info...

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Dennis Wengert 2
The elephant in the room is getting larger by the day, and Boeing is paying in reputation and future customer loyalty today, and potentially near catastrophic financial implications as time goes on. This makes Apple's issues with 'antennae gate' and Apple 'mapsgate' look like a walk in the park compared to Boeing's fallout with 'batterygate.' Hope they can work it all out without a complete re-engineering and re-cert required.
B. W. 2
Nice article. The MIT professor has some great ideas, but I do hope his '787 grounded til 2014' prediction doesn't pan out. That would be a total nightmare fore Boeing and the 787 customers.

Torsten Hoff 2
Please note that Boeing has not indicated that this is a solution they are contemplating, but given their danger and the face that Lithium-Ion batteries may be banned from the cargo hold, this may be a prudent step.
Torsten Hoff 1

I think the worst-case scenario for Boeing would be that they spend time engineering a solution for the existing Lithium Ion batteries, go through length testing and certification, and that the FAA bans the batteries as a precautionary step -- then it's back to square one.

I'm not sure how much weight the new batteries save compared to the models used in the past, but it has to be negligible in relation to the overall usable payload weight. Trying to save a few dozen pounds seems foolish.
chalet 1
Losses in the billions for the airlines and penalties in the billions that Boing is facing, too bad really. But if previous battery systems run very well in other aircraft I don't think that a lengthy certification procedure has to be followed when used them on 787s. However another matter is manufacturing time as anytbhing like this is not found at Target or Cotsco, they habve to be built from scratch.
John Haller 1
The Forbes article on which the CNET article is based (and references), has more detailed information. The cobalt oxide chemistry was also the same chemistry used in the Dell laptops which experienced a few battery fires. I also wonder if the Boeing batteries are kept sufficiently cool when the plane sits empty on a hot summer day in the sun, then brought over and used. The Boeing battery fires all happened during the northern hemisphere's winter, which makes it all the more puzzling.

Neither of the professors ideas sound quick to implement - active battery cooling or switching battery technology, then manufacturing and getting the replacement certified. The original battery technology underwent more than 1 million hours of testing during the certification process.
Carlos Bea 1
With the battery technology being so new, it's just unfortunate a backup was not considered beforehand.
Has to be an easier way...could boeing really lay this big of an egg on this? 1 million hours of research/testing?
andy streit 1
I read that there are only 2 batteries of the new technology on the 787. What is normal number of batteries on a 767 or 777? Is it that much of a weight savings to implement lithium ion vs old technology?
James Farnsworth Rédacteur 1
When my kids are tight lipped it means they have done wrong. Boeing has been the same way since this started and tried to hide info about the batteries failing in testing. I think it was so far behind and over budget it was pushed to get it on line service. I think the Dreamliner has become the Nightmare liner. I love Boeing I spend thousands of hours a year in the cockpit and as a passenger and other then when the 737’s had the rudder problem thought I was on the best there was. I am set to start training on the Airbus in May and can’t wait to be able to do my own true apples to apples of the two manufactures.
Ouch 50 250 million dollar planes sunbathing in the desert for a year? Boeing better have a great butt kissing plan or it might be a great year for an Airbus salesman.
JJ Johnson 0
If the 787 is grounded why is ANA still flying it from Tokyo to Frankfurt up over Siberia?

Pat Bell 1
It's the data Flightaware is getting...the flight is being operated by 777-200ER, registration JA716A. All 787's are still grounded.

Interestingly, when you look at the track by registration number http://flightaware.com/live/flight/JA716A/history/20130128/1610Z/RJTT/EDDF it shows 787 even though it is a 777.