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Dreamliner Battery Still Not Safe Enough, NTSB Report Says

December 2, 2014

Firefighters at Logan Airport NTSB photo How many ways did the company producing the lithium ion batteries on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fail to meet safe standards? I’m still wading through the 100 page report and the exhibits in the thick docket accompanying it, but so far, the list is lengthy. On Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board released the result of its near two year investigation into the battery fire event on a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston’s Logan Airport in January 2013. The NTSB follows by three months, a similarly exhaustive probe by the JTSB, its Japanese counterpart, into another Dreamliner battery problem… Read More…


Dreamliner Use of Hazardous Battery Like Whack-a-Mole

January 30, 2013

American Airlines seats on A B737 Two breaking news stories that have consumed my attention recently seem on the surface to be unrelated, beyond the obvious – both are about air safety. The first is the revelation I made in APEX magazine on Tuesday that American Airlines has once again been flying a Boeing 757 with seats installed incorrectly.  The entire coach cabin seats were placed 2 inches off, blocking access to the airplane’s over wing exits. You can read the full story here.  What knocked me off my seat is the statement the FAA made when I asked if this latest  problem would be… Read More…


Unhappy With My Dreamliner Coverage, Boeing Claims Conspiracy Theory

July 12, 2017

Its Boeing’s factory, it can do what it wants within its gates, but I have to wonder if its decision to ban me from the property during a Norwegian press event last month isn’t a sign of these Trump times. Many people are the subject of news stories they don’t like. What Trump’s journalist-bashing behavior seems to have taught Boeing is that when they don’t like the coverage all they have to do is slander the journalist. Here’s the backstory. On June 29, Norwegian took delivery of two 737 Max 8’s it has on order. The new 189 seat narrow body will be used to… Read More…


Don’t Be Spooked if 787 Battery Box is a Smoky Cauldron

October 26, 2015

Note: This post has been updated with new information from TUI Arkefly. Two years ago, episodes of smoking and sputtering lithium ion batteries on two Boeing Dreamliners were so horrifying the entire fleet was grounded for months and the design was the subject of three safety investigations. But a mysterious transition has occurred, as if a spell had been put on the folks responsible for safe skies. Just in time for Halloween and as I reported for Gizmodo, in the 18 months since Boeing was forced to confine its devilish batteries to a stainless steel housing so the plane could fly again, several more have… Read More…


Boeing, FAA Don’t Understand 787 Battery Shortcomings, Japanese Say

September 26, 2014

Far from dismissing three safety events on Japanese Boeing 787 Dreamliners as mysteries that will go forever unresolved, the nation’s safety authority has issued a series of recommendations to Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration that suggest the two entities don’t fully understand the ways the volatile lithium ion batteries and their chargers can fail. The Japan Transport Safety Board (along with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board) has been looking into what happened on board three Japanese airliners in 2013 and 2014 to cause the revolutionary new airplane’s lithium ion batteries to fail. This resulted in smoke, fire and a lot of panic among… Read More…


No Single Cause for 787 Battery Problem – News? Not Exactly

August 5, 2014

The Japanese media is out today with news that the Japan Transport Safety Board is preparing a report on what caused the lithium ion batteries on three Boeing 787 Dreamliners to emit smoke (and in one case catch fire) in 2013 and 2014. The newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that the JTSB has concluded there is deterioration of the electrolyte solution in low temperatures. All three battery events on Japanese airliners occurred in the month of January.  A translation of the articles provided to me by my correspondent in Japan, Takeo Aizawa, says  a phenomenon called deposition, or a build up of lithium metal, creates needle-like objects… Read More…


Pilot and Boss at Ethiopian Cool About Dreamliner Post-Fire

June 19, 2014

Queen of Sheba at Bole International Airport The Ethiopian Airlines pilot had no idea that the lady bounding off the bus filling with passengers headed out to board ET Flight 602, was an aviation blogger with plenty of ink both behind and in front of her on the subject of the prone-to-ignite Dreamliner batteries. But, as are many Ethiopians, he was courteous and answered my questions in the 45 seconds I had before being shooed back on the bus by the driver and my fellow passengers. Pointing across the runway at the plane I thought to be ET-AOP, I had asked him, “Isn’t that the… Read More…


Dreamliner’s Dramatic Life Mimics Woody Allen’s Art

May 23, 2014

In the Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall, an estranged couple is seen in separate visits to their therapists answering the question; “How often do the two of you have sex?” “Aways,” the woman says, “three times a week.” “Never,” the man says, “three times a week.” When it comes to the way the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board see the question of the “safety” of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner the same flexibility in perception is on display. How well-contained are the risks on the world’s newest wide body airliner? “Very” says the FAA. “Not so much,” says the NTSB. In March,… Read More…


Boeing to the Dreamliner: “I Love You, Now Change”

January 16, 2014

Photo courtesy Boeing I believe this to be true about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Designers and engineers at Boeing are hard at work reworking the plane without its two lithium ion batteries. And, I suspect with less confidence, they have been doing this for quite some time. I believe this because this is a company that has built an empire on brilliance and creativity and surely it must know better than anyone else that it cannot survive under the barrage of publicity it receives each time one of its batteries does not perform as expected. And also because it can no longer be confident that… Read More…


Does Tesla’s Battery Fire Tempt Boeing to Schadenfreude?

October 3, 2013

The joke about the mixed emotions when ones’ mother-in-law drives off a cliff in your brand-new-car surely must describe how Boeing feels today watching Tesla defend the lithium ion batteries powering its cars.  Tuesday (while I was writing a nice little feature  for the Times about a Tesla S as wedding coach) a similar sedan caught fire in Washington state, a roaring blaze captured on video by a passing motorist who spontaneously opined “Oh, s–t dude, that’s a brand new car!” He then adds, “Wow, I can feel the heat in here.” That may be the more significant statement which I will get to in… Read More…


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