28 July 2013

787 prepared for production rate increase with new engineering organization and continuous electrical systems´ missteps.

Electrical bay fire incident in a Qatar Airways 787

After days of stonewalling it has been confirmed that a Qatar Airways 787 caught fire in a rear underfloor part of the fuselage, last Sunday as it was moving into position to take off from Doha airport.

The fire -described as ‘serious’ in some quarters, ‘not serious’ by the airline- had extensively damaged an important panel in the electrical bay that also caught fire in a test flight Dreamliner in Nov/2010, causing an emergency diversion to Laredo where that jet was evacuated. Although the incident was described by Qatar Airways as minor the jet -registered as A7-BCB- has not flown for six days.

“This is a minor issue for us, and not an incident, so we are not commenting,” a Qatar Airways spokeswoman said.

ELT´s spontaneous fire in Ethiopian Airways 787

More defective or incorrectly wired or installed ELTs -crash location beacons developed by Honeywell- are being found in 787s already in service. These discoveries are largely being made by airlines (ANA, United) following a very damaging fire in an Ethiopian Airways 787 at London’s Heathrow Airport on 12/July.

"We have found small damage to the covering of the battery wiring in two Emergency Locator Transmitters," said ANA spokesman Shinsuke Satake.

According to the UK safety investigator, an in flight ignition of an ELT could have serious consequences.

January lithium-ion incidents in Japan´s 787

The US safety investigator, the NTSB, is continuing to seek a cause for the heavy duty lithium-ion battery problems that saw the FAA scramble to catch up with Japan’s decision to ground the Dreamliners in January after 2 serious and high profile incidents in Japan registered 787s.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said in May that the airline had to forego $200 million in lost profit because of the grounding of 787 planes, but has received compensation from Boeing for the losses.

Engineering organization
Boeing announced internally Friday a reshuffling of top engineering executives in the Commercial Airplanes unit. Mike Sinnett leaves his post as chief project engineer for the 787 Dreamliner.

Sinnett, who joined Boeing in 1991 after working on fighter jets at McDonnell Douglas, led the development of all the 787’s airplane systems from the beginning of the program a decade ago.

And it was Sinnett who this year led the effort to design a fix for the main-battery overheating problems that grounded the 787 for almost four months.

After the grounding was lifted, it seemed Sinnett had put the 787’s troubles behind him until the 12/July fire aboard a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 at Heathrow raised a new set of concerns.

Sinnett now steps sideways to a less stressful position as vice president of product development.

Replacing Sinnett as 787 chief project engineer is Bob Whittington, who previously held that post on the 777 program.

The 787-9 wich is expected to make its first flight within next 2 months after the imminent roll-out will enter service in mid-2014, probably before the A350 XWB. Boeing is dropping the strongest hints yet that it will inevitably push 787 production beyond 10 aircraft per month.

Based on the article “ANA finds damaged battery wires on 787 locator beacons” published in AFP, on the article “Qatar grounds a 787 as glitches pile up on Boeing jet” published in Reuters and based on the article “Boeing shuffles high-ranking engineering execs” published in The Seattle Times

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