back to article Boeing batteries back under spotlight as 787 burns at Heathrow

Boeing has suffered an unfortunate double-whammy after problems with two of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft in the UK on Friday. Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner fire at Heathrow Fire damage near the 787's tail London's Heathrow Airport was shut for over an hour on Friday evening after an Ethiopian Airlines 787 caught fire …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Chris Miller
    Joke

    A bit of conclusion-leaping going on. The apparent location of the fire does not coincide with the location of either of the main batteries. It is, however, very near the crew rest quarters - perhaps someone forgot to extinguish their cigarette in their hurry to leave?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Batteries? Look elsewhere, for now

      A website elsewhere, one that is actually capable of doing modern things like p i c t u r e s, has pages from what looks like an official fire and rescue training document, and pages from a Boeing website [1]. They agree with each other about where the batteries are. Neither the main battery nor the APU battery are anywhere near the fuselage damage.

      [1] http://787updates.newairplane.com/Boeing787Updates/media/Boeing787Updates/Batteries%20and%20Advanced%20Aircraft/787_battery_info_graphics_master-large.jpg?width=900&height=675&ext=.jpg

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
      Flame

      "hurry to leave?"

      Some sources state the airplane had been sitting empty for 8 hours. That's one long smoldering cig.

      1. Paul Renault

        Maybe it was one of these cigarettes...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6psWFGYPHO8#t=05m30s

        (I couldn't find a 'Mercan language version of Superagente for this episode.)

      2. david 12 Bronze badge

        smouldering fires:

        That's one long smoldering cig.

        http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~grein/smouldering.html

        "A fire scenario that is particularly common is when a cigarette ignites a piece of upholstered furniture. This ignition leads to a smouldering fire that lasts for a long period of time (in the order of hours), spreading slowly and silently until critical conditions are attained and flames suddenly erupt"

        "Smouldering of forest biomass can linger for days or weeks after flaming has ceased"

        "After the attack, fire and subsequent collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, the colossal pile of debris left on the site smouldered for more than five months"

        "The dramatic 1997 peat-land fires in Borneo made subsurface smouldering fires emerge as a global threat with significant economic, social and ecological impacts. In the summer of 2006, the Borneo peat fires came back"

        Typically in a fatal cigarette fire, conversion to flame happens around an hour after the smouldering starts, but typically if it goes longer, somebody spots it and puts it out.

    3. Robert Sneddon

      No rear rest area

      It's being reported that the Etihad 787s aren't configured with a flight attendant bunkroom in the roofspace; it's an option for aircraft that are expected to do 10-hour-plus long-haul and need two FA crews on board and Etihad doesn't fly that sort of route. The scorched hull area is above the galley, however and there may be wiring runs in that area -- the APU is positioned under the tailplane.

      1. Thorsten

        Re: No rear rest area

        It's also reported for Ethiopian, which is a tad more relevant for this incidence than Etihad's configuration.

      2. Brian Davies

        Re: No rear rest area

        Etihad?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      APU

      This is where the APU is normally located in an aircraft. If the auxiliary power unit has a fault then it looks like the plane will be grounded once again.

      1. Beachrider

        Re: APU

        But never is it at this location in THIS plane

    5. LarsG
      Meh

      A known problem

      "The revised operating procedure calls for the APU selector switch to be put in the “on” position during a shutdown, which will allow the inlet door to open and the the unit to cool down. The door must remain open for 40 min. before being closed, to enable the APU to be restarted. The notice indicates that the APU could be restarted without causing damage if reactivated within 20 min. of shutdown, or after 120 min. have elapsed.

      The revised procedure also has connections with the operation of one of the 787's two lithium-ion batteries. The notice includes a precautionary note that advises against using the APU battery power to keep the door open as this will “only have about 15 minutes before being discharged.” It adds that ground power must be used to keep the APU door open for 40 min. and warns that, if this is disconnected, the door will close even with the APU switch on the flight deck remaining in the “open” position. Boeing declines to specify the design changes that will be made to improve cooling and ventilation of the APU compartment."

      The APU is in fact located in the tail section?

      1. Thorsten

        Re: A known problem

        The APU is at the very end of the tail, while the fire was in front of the tailplane fin, so it's unlikely that this is directly connected to the APU. And the power cables are likely below the floor, not in the crown.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A known problem

        An article containing LarsG's unattributed quotes re residual heat causing problems in the APU is in Aviation Week.

        It's worth a read if this kind of thing interests you:

        http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_05_27_2013_p35-581107.xml

        History will show that too much has been subbed out, integration testing hasn't been properly done despite (because of?) all the delays, and the regulatory authorities have taken too much on trust.

        Bean counter's dreamliner.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A known problem

          Been working on DO-178B 'compliant' embedded systems for more than 10 years now.

          I also prefer trains to planes for more than 10 years.

          Can not upvote enough this post.

          I only hope the 787 will be the wake up call needed for the FAA and EASA to ignore the pressures from the manufacturers.

        2. Beachrider

          Re: A known problem

          This diagnostic info has nothing to do with this problem on this plane. I am sure that you are very sart, though...

      3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: A known problem

        A humongous battery can only hold a door open for fifteen minutes?

        Gawd almighty... The faint stench of monumental stupidity wafts across the tarmac.

        1. Beachrider

          Re: A known problem

          Maybe it is your socks?

      4. Beachrider

        Re: A known problem

        It is 30 feet away in this plane.

    6. Richard Ball

      Someone probably left their rounded-cornered device plugged in and charging at their bed.

      We all know how those things like to go up in flames.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Indeed. Too much speculation, not enough facts

      Here's a proper analysis of the incident based on what is currently known on the ground:

      http://leehamnews.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/ethiopian-787-fire-the-day-after/

      Stop being so sensationalist, El Reg!

    8. TheVogon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Should have bought an Airbus. American planes are just like American cars - expensive, unreliable junk...

  2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Looks a

    fun repair job on that.... no cutting the skin panels out and rivetting in some replacements

    And just how far has the heat damage gone.....

    Will be a right kicker if that plane is scrap after 1 piddly little fire

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looks a

      "Will be a right kicker if that plane is scrap after 1 piddly little fire"

      Allegedly Boeing have the repair techniques ready and waiting. I guess we'll find out quite soon.

      They'll be trying very very very hard to get this one back into service even if it is nominally damaged beyond economic repair; a writeoff at this stage would be catastrophic. "The markets" see it as fairly catastrophic anyway, Boeing down 10%.

      Bit of a coincidence that a TUI one en route West from Manchester had to treat Anglesey as a roundabout for half an hour to dump fuel before returning to Manchester

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-23296073

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Looks a

        Allegedly Boeing have the repair techniques ready and waiting.

        Yes, tried and tested techniques exist.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Looks a

          Being serious, carbon fibre composites are eminently repairable. Indeed, it is possible to lengthen Kevlar/carbon fibre boats.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Joke

      Re: Looks a

      ""fun repair job on that.... no cutting the skin panels out and rivetting in some replacements

      And just how far has the heat damage gone.....

      "Nahh mate, few layers of fibreglass, bit of epoxy and a quick once over with some cans of paint and it'll be good as new. No one will know it ever happened. Knock a bit off for cash? Don't see why not."

      1. Naughtyhorse
        Thumb Up

        Re: Looks a

        Bish-Bash-Bosh job's a good un!

  3. BornToWin

    Typical knee jerk reaction

    The batteries are not suspect. It's in the galley area and could be something as simple as a coffee pot left on or overheated.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Typical knee jerk reaction

      Burger kings attempt at in flight "flame grilled whoppers" not a success

    2. ian 22
      Flame

      The Dreamliner: a burning issue

      Unfortunate for Boeing what with the 787's flaming history.

  4. ted frater

    the last ting I had to do on shutting down my aircraft ,was to throw the ground /flight switch to ground ,and disconnect the ground acc trolley.

    Then reverse the process the next time i was due to fly.

    When everything was up and running, throw the g/f switch to flight and all was ready to go.

    some time ago mind you,4 bigRolls Royce griffons with contra props were always a joy to start up , do the mag drop test to keep the pilot happy.

    14 hr sorties over the water wernt funny. My job was to get us there and back.

    Dont modern a/liners have g/f switches? seems a common sense thing to do.

    1. Metrognome

      Yep, the g/f switch is no more. It's been replaced by electronics reading via sensors tied to pressure on the wheel bogies.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        So that explains why it's so much more reliable!

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      I don't really see how the g/f switch would help, it's not a magic panacea that prevents fires from breaking out onboard the aircraft. In fact as modern airliners have weight on wheels switches to perform the same function it obviously doesn't.

      At the same time at this stage for all we know this was a member of the cabin crews' phone overheating so it may even be that the design of the plane isn't at fault.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "modern airliners have weight on wheels switches to perform the same function."

        And how, exactly, does the Weight on Wheels switch work in comparison with an actual physical isolator in the cockpit? Does the WoW switch introduce extra complexity? What are the corresponding extra risks and how are they mitigated? Does a WoW switch even introduce a computerised system, whose impact on safety has not so far been recognised? I don't know the answers to these questions, I do know how bean counters think, and a 787 is a bean counter's dream. Not an engineer's.

        "for all we know this was a member of the cabin crews' phone overheating so it may even be that the design of the plane isn't at fault."

        If something like a phone overheating (or even a coffee machine overheating) causes this extent of structural damage, then it is ENTIRELY the plane designer/builders fault. You can build a plane in a way that small fires don't lead to large incidents (especially not large in-flight incidents). Or you can save some weight and cost by using cheaper lighter less fire resistant materials (in comparison with materials which have traditionally been used in commercial airliners). Which one would you rather fly in?

        ETOPS rating at risk again already?

        Bean counter's dreamliner.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Flame

          Perhaps an unattended fire in the cabin?

          If somebody left their phone in there and it caught fire, the alarm goes off and if there are crew on board, an attendant comes by within moments to investigate and (if necessary/appropriate) attack the fire.

          But if nobody noticed the alarm, there'll be time for a very small fire to become a large one.

          Fire was always the biggest event on board ship, and a ship's bridge is never unmanned. A plane's cockpit however?

        2. SkippyBing Silver badge

          'And how, exactly, does the Weight on Wheels switch work in comparison with an actual physical isolator in the cockpit? '

          Pretty much the same way, they're both switches just the location is different. Certainly the flight/ground switch I've used wasn't a physical isolator it was just a switch that made a circuit live that then set various relays, e.g. one to allow the radar to transmit.

          Weight on Wheels switches have been around for decades so are a tried and tested mechanism, and besides it's not as if they're directly connected to the 'start fire in aft of aircraft' circuit, so if if it was faulty it's unlikely to be the direct cause of the fire.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Weight on Wheels

            I'm intrigued by this. From the sound of it the ground/flight switch that preceded WoW switched between the aircraft's internal generators and a ground-based power supply. If the WoW switch does the same, does this mean that the power all goes off as soon as the wheels touch the runway? And does it mean that they need either a very long extension cable or a very fast generator truck to provide power until the weight is off the wheels?

            Flippancy, obviously. But it does suggest that WoW is something more complicated than a simple substitute.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "At the same time at this stage for all we know this was a member of the cabin crews' phone overheating so it may even be that the design of the plane isn't at fault."

        If that's the amount of damage done by a small fire started by, say a phone battery or badly wired coffee heater in the galley, I'd say they have a bigger problem than the batteries, given that it would have appear to have gone through the hull. There have been a great many reservations expressed about the use of composites and their heat resistant properties.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > 4 bigRolls Royce griffons with contra props

      Ah; 100,000 rivets flying in close formation...

      1. MrT

        WR963...

        ...hope to eventually see her return to flight (though hopefully avoid deserts...). Then maybe they can bring it up to Elvington to compare with the Nimrod. And the one at Coventry is a Mk2, so it could be nice to park up next to the Halifax to compare it with the Lincoln - they did a similar thing a few years ago with Lancaster and B17.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        and the motto for the Shackleton squadron was "8 screws are better than two blow jobs"

  5. Zmodem

    why does ethiopia have them and not millions of bags of rice of import duty of passengers and more tax

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would imagine it's for the same reason the US is willing to spend 800 odd billion on the iraq war while at the same time is trying to cut 4 odd billion from food stamps ... Different people have different priorities.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Zmodem

        ethiopia is not a proper country and a full infrastructure, all the charities should send in some administrators and bring abit more money in from themselves

        a few spread out raises of taxes on the airline and other places, could bring in enough for water pipes and treatment plants etc from their own government money

        1. Zmodem

          and theres some rain harvesting using rain tanks that was on restoration nation, they can use to build big underground reservoirs that just uses milk crates and wrapped in plastic to store water along the way

          1. Zmodem

            4 or 5 $20m water treatment plants

            a 500,000 gallon underground reservoir every 100 miles or so

            alot of brought or donated main waterpipe http://img.diytrade.com/cdimg/1338617/17581687/0/1291187485/FRP_PIPE.jpg and some JCB`s

            and you would have water to build cities around, not wells and a random camp, and would all be done in 10 years like a train track over maintains and through deserts

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              By the same token why are we in the first world wasting money on airliners when we could be teaching people about grammar and capitalisation and making coherent statements.

              1. Zmodem

                i dont need to be coherant... people who are dont have common sense

                trench digger like http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/6032995/2/stock-photo-6032995-heavy-equipment-trench-digger.jpg

                can do 20 km a week through any ground, water pipe is not hard to put down, you just need 2x JCB`s on each team to forklift the pipes into place or dig the trench if you do not have proper trench diggers

                1. Down not across Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Coherence, common sense,

                  "i dont need to be coherant... people who are dont have common sense"

                  Wow. Just wow.

                  First of all if you want to make your voice heard, and your potential audience to take notice (especially of the message you are attempting to convey), being coherent is rather vital. A good grammar is also important if you want the message to be understood. Bad grammar tends to lead to posts where the message gets distorted and misunderstood not to mention quite tedious to try to read if the grammar is particularly bad.

                  As for the unbelievably sweeping statement that people who are coherent have no common sense. Well, apart from it being obviously utterly incorrect pretty much means you just alienated what I'd expect to be vast majority,if not all, of your potential audience here.

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: Coherence, common sense,

                    an audience would be groundworkers who find the CSCS card test hard read the sun and watch eastenders

                    africa has enough land, there is no point thinking that laying water mains pipe is hard and making a self sustaining farm will destroy the planet

                    1. Zmodem

                      Re: Coherence, common sense,

                      a few government run farms growing plenty of veg, and charities would just have to drive to the local market if they didnt lay the water mains and make the farms themselves

                      then there is corn to export and cover global shortages that make the headlines every year or two

                      1. Zmodem

                        Re: Coherence, common sense,

                        if you use an underground stream to fill a underground reservoir, when the reservoir is filled up, the stream could just carry on its natural path, and you would be able to have pressure pumps or put your irrigation system on for a few hours a night

              2. me n u
                Unhappy

                The rise and fall of the US empire.

                I agree.

                Teach them how to spill, firm a sintince, avoid long ron-on sintinses and lirn to punchewate?

                I can't say what's happening over there in blighty-land, but here in the US empire, education is a planned disaster. After all, it's much easier to take care of the sheep when they are down right stupid. I have watched my country become a 3rd world, 3rd rate empire over my lifetime. Saddest part is, no one (or is it noone, no-one or none?) over here seems to notice or care, and the latter scares me more than the former. :(

                1. Naughtyhorse
                  Happy

                  Re: The rise and fall of the US empire.

                  Atlas shrugged?

                2. Flashy Red
                  Facepalm

                  Re: The rise and fall of the US empire.

                  In the pursuit of power, an educated populace is something of a hurdle. Why else do you think education is such a low priority, planned disaster?

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: The rise and fall of the US empire.

                    you think all the skeletons on charity television appeal adverts care for phd's

            2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
              WTF?

              Now I wonder why a perfectly reasonable comment about providing water to arid areas gathers 2 downvotes?

              1. petur
                FAIL

                "Now I wonder why a perfectly reasonable comment about providing water to arid areas gathers 2 downvotes?"

                Because it is off-topic?

                1. Zmodem

                  off topic is good, and not all airlines in rich countries have the latest planes

        2. Naughtyhorse

          america is not a proper country and a full infrastructure, all the charities should send in some administrators and bring abit more money in from themselves

          a few spread out raises of taxes on the airline and other places, could bring in enough for water pipes and treatment plants etc from their own government money.

          there fixed it for you

          1. Zmodem

            i know about 3rd world countries, all the charities and government aid, should lay water mains pipe down, its not hard if they have a proper trench digger

            then make farms etc... then when people on famine camps all start to feel healthy, the country would have water mains pipe for the millions to setup new towns.. instead of being back where they started

            ethiopia should get abit more tax off of the airline and they can pay for some of it themselves

            most charities are run by celebrities who dont have a brain cell and have never actually thought anything through

            1. Zmodem

              every country has reservoirs to collect rain water, and has millions of km of water main pipe, surface reservoirs cant be dont in africa becaue the water would just be polluted by wild life

              and if you have the money you can put all the chemicals in a water treatment plant and just use river water, or underground streams, once the reservoir tank has been filled up and connect it to the mains pipe

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Damm - there was I actually working on the problem and thinking it was actually quite hard. Could you just remind me where I put the reservoir - i guess on top of the biggest mountain, so that all the water flows down hill. I guess I could use one of those 3d printers to print out the pipe, cos there are quite a lot of people, and they are quite poor, and I think I'm going to need a LOT of pipe.

              1. Zmodem

                most of africa is flat, engineers can build spacestation and make tunnels under the sea

                looking at map an plotting the easiest mains pipe route, and have smaller village pipes coming off the mains through 100% open land is not hard, nor is putting in a bend in the pipe, and nor is making underground reseviors that are 1000s of gallons bigger then a well and cheaper and able to have a solar powered pressure pump

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @ZModem (project plumb Africa...)

                  Yes great - soon the whole of the planet will be covered in human beings all living in little concrete houses with water piped to the front door. Meanwhile we can all watch the world that was on our flat screen TVs (e.g. forests, tigers, coral reefs, thousands of other things). But the most important thing is to squeeze as many lovely human beings together so they can all enjoy each others miserable company.

                  Yes - I am a bit of a misanthrope. Fix things for people - but make it all sustainable for the planet - NOT just some stupid vision of plumbing up the whole of African so they can "build cities" all over the place.

                  </rant>

    2. Sadie
      Holmes

      Probably because Ethiopian is a pretty well run airline, it's profitable for the government and helps contribute to employment and improving the country as a whole.

      1. Zmodem

        I said they should check the taxes because the their government can pay for water pipes and treatment plants

        you can give all camps charities spend time giving bottled water within a few months and lay a whole infrastructure for the whole country in 10 years

        along the pipe path you can have farms with sprinklers to grow food and export

        1. Steven 1
          Alert

          @Zmodem

          Is amanfrommars broken or something?

          1. Zmodem

            Re: @Zmodem

            charities combines and government aid costs over $500 million a year going to africa

            a few trench diggers cost £1m each, JCB`s would be donated...

            laying some water mains pipe is kids work for all the army and other engineers that are always in africa making wells

            they only need 1 water treatment plant to run the mains off, if they need to build a new plant

            there is no other way to stop your famine etc

            1. Zmodem

              Re: @Zmodem

              then you just burn some land, and have water from the mains pipe to soak it all and then plough it and you have a farm that does`nt need aload of chemicals to grow some potatoes

          2. Naughtyhorse

            Re: @Zmodem

            lol

            amanfrommars was broken right out of the box!

            1. Zmodem

              Re: @Zmodem

              no.. some countries cant grow food because the soil has no nutriants..

              you burn land, you flatten it with 1 of these https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0d/John_Deere_roller%2C_U.S._Navy%2C_Camp_Covington%2C_NMCB-133%2C_080928-N-1106H-001.jpg/800px-John_Deere_roller%2C_U.S._Navy%2C_Camp_Covington%2C_NMCB-133%2C_080928-N-1106H-001.jpg

              you then plough the burnt foilage into the earth, keep it wet and plough it a few more times, there is enough elephant and zebra to other compost

              if you have a proper trench digger, you just have to drive it along, and drop pipe in the 2 foot trench and bolt the pipe together, and put in some valve every mile or two, so you can stop the water through surface drain bolt taps, when there is a leak

              1. Zmodem

                Re: @Zmodem

                most of the famine camps would all start to feel healthy within 6 months with enough water, potatoes and cabbages and buffalo stew, then they would all start to work on farms, and the world would never be short on corn etc

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Elephant and zebra my a****!

                Elephant and zebra my arse! You're building cities all over the place remember? And killing off all the elephant and zebra as you go - they get in the way.

                1. Zmodem

                  Re: Elephant and zebra my a****!

                  hows having a water mains pipe 6 feet underground messing up the planet

                  this is what a proper trench digger looks like :

                  http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/6032995/2/stock-photo-6032995-heavy-equipment-trench-digger.jpg

                  you need water mains pipe.. to start farms and fertilize the land to stop famine

                  http://www.access-irrigation.co.uk/sites/default/files/imagecache/headerimage/field-sprinkler.jpg

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: Elephant and zebra my a****!

                    you could have a billion acre`s of new farm land in africa, and you would`nt even know about it, unless you follow the roads that will appear along the water mains pipe when harvest comes

                    1. Zmodem

                      Re: Elephant and zebra my a****!

                      and etc

                      some fertilizer once you have made some farm land by burning, and 10,000km of pipe and a few trench diggers, costs alot less then cargo ships of rice, bottled water, water chemicals, and all inland transportation of it all

                      1. Someone Else Silver badge
                        Go

                        Re: ZModem

                        According to El Reg's medallion criteria, you need 1000 upvotes to get a silver medallion. Seems ZModem is on a mission to get 1000 downvotes by the end of the week. I propose a bullshit brown medallion for reaching that particular milestone....

                        1. Zmodem

                          Re: ZModem

                          they arnt called comment tards for nothing

                          africa -> globe map -> actual physical size in relation to all other countries

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Zmodem.....

      Can i recommend this, a damm good read and you might bloody learn something about "3rd world" countries.

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nowhere-Like-Home-ebook/dp/B00ADSNCV8/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1373875065&sr=1-1

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Theory

      This image seems to suggest you're right - there is a battery in the rear to start the APU, near to where the fire occurred:

      http://media.mcclatchydc.com/smedia/2013/01/17/00/23/XsZ5c.La.91.jpg

      With only a couple of dozen aircraft in service, battery fires had happened multiple times. And yet Boeing stated 'we might never know the cause', because they'd been unable to replicate the problems. So they just tweaked some stuff, put a bit more space around the batteries, thicker fire protection, venting, and so on, and the FAA approved the fix.

      If this is a battery fire, the Screamliner needs to be grounded UNTIL they actually figure out what is causing these fires. It is not acceptable to just apply some sticking plaster, cross fingers, and send them up again. There have been multiple fires, it is not a freak occurrence, there is a clear indication that SOMETHING is wrong. They need to figure out what is wrong before they fix it.

      1. Richard Jones 1
        Unhappy

        Re: Theory

        That image has a write up stating that the batteries were mounted under floor with a small unit for the APU in the tail. I do not believe that above the ceiling in front of the fin is that same location at all.

        Speculation about the batteries is understandable, whether it is reasonable or anywhere near right is another matter all together. At this state it appears it could be almost anything - including spontaneous combustion of passenger items stowed in error - though this is as unlikely as many of the other suggestions!

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Theory

      ...Obviously Boeing need to think again about Li-Ion, they are clearly unsafe for aircraft....

      I use LiPo batteries for model boats and aircraft. They are well understood to be dangerous by the modelling community, and usually charged in protective containers to minimise the impact of fire or explosion.

      But laptop manufacturers were crying out for a new battery technology, and so the world was disinclined to do too many safety studies when they came out...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Theory

        Bullshit. Are you implying your Graupner model stuff LiPo shit is the the same as the one in planes? Next you will be telling me that avionics is built on Windows.

        > disinclined to do too many safety studies

        Evil capitalists p0wning you? More like consumers want these, and it works quite well (people are not blowing up right and left and even state regulators don't complain too much) so it's on the market. Or are you seriously implying that you prefer to carry a Vietnam-era lead-acid backpack for your laptop?

        1. A 11
          Happy

          Re: Theory

          http://media02.hongkiat.com/bsod/airplane.png

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Theory

          "Next you will be telling me that avionics is built on Windows."

          Not yet, but there's allegedly been Windows for Warships for a while now.

          And a little birdy tells me that one of the major >safety critical< avionics software players has a new man in charge, who has been heard to say "low level test is unnecessary". Low level test is the bit that tests that the code in the PROMs actually performs as per the requirements specification. There are already lots of prior desk-type tests to check that the software design conforms to the requirements specification. The new faith apparently requires believers to testify that these simpler, earlier (and by coincidence shorter and cheaper) tests are largely sufficient on their own without low level tests, and thus largely eliminate any significant need for testing the in-hardware implementation of the design????

          There might be some plausibility in this new faith if there was such a thing as a verifiably correct compiler and runtime (not to mention something verifiably correct to run it on, e.g. Viper, except it wasn't really, was it).

          Anyway the point is that believers of the new faith presumably wouldn't care if the safety critical software did run on Windows, as long as the design passes its tests and the regulatory authorities are satisfied that the suppliers have followed due process, as per documentation (just like due process was followed on the 787)..

          Yes I know it sounds unbelievable.. I'm hoping someone has misunderstood.

          But if they haven't misunderstood, then some folk will still have to have faith anyway, because unbelievers go to the back of the salary continuation queue.

          Ross Anderson (or team), are you reading this, do you understand the implications? We're not just talking insecure smart meters here you know. Or even duff chip+PIN security,

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Theory

            Ross Anderson (or team), are you reading this, do you understand the implications? We're not just talking insecure smart meters here you know. Or even duff chip+PIN security,

            Of course they understand, what you don't understand is that by the time it comes to bite the company on the ass, they will be long gone.

            QED

          2. Yag

            Re: Theory

            This guy can say anything, as long as the certification agencies don't listen to him and still require mandatory LLR verification for level A and B SW.

            Can understand why he said that, unit tests are very costly.

            But I've seen enough level D software to know how ugly things can get without proper code inspections and unit tests...

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------

            A little sidenote for those not familliar with DO-178B :

            This standard defines 5 levels, from A to E, depending of the criticity of the SW.

            - Level A software is for the most critical SW that may lead to a catastrophic accident (Typically, most of the onboard computers and display units are level A)

            - Level D software is for the non critical parts. Mostly diagnostic tests or dataloading SW that can only be activated when the equipment is plugged in a special device are example of level D SW (as long as the selector bootstrap is level A of course)

            Properly designed In Flight Entertainment SW should be classified as level C, as it may lead to an extra workload for the cabin crew - a blue screen may makes passengers quite nervous...

            - Level E is a catch-all category which means "any SW not developped following DO-178B guidelines". Windows 8 Aircraft Edition for example.

            ...

            Geez, when you have to write a sidenote longer than the actual message, you know you're doing it wrong.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Theory

              "as long as the certification agencies don't listen to him and still require mandatory LLR verification for level A and B SW."

              Look around you.

              When did you last see any industry regulator that was competent in what they are supposed to be regulating?

              Ten years ago I would have expected FAA CAA etc to have a clue about both the general approval process and access to the relevant industry experts.

              Doesn't the Dreamliner scenario (to name just one very visible example) make you wonder whether FAA CAA etc still do have a clue?

              It makes me wonder.

      2. Clive Harris
        Happy

        LiPo batteries

        >>I use LiPo batteries for model boats and aircraft. They are well understood to be dangerous<<

        Well yes, Polonium (Po) is rather dodgy stuff.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: LiPo batteries

          It's not that difficult to google LiPo and find that it stands for Lithium Polymer....

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Pirate

    Meanwhile a shadowy international financier with an accent shorts Boeing stock *again*

    It's important to ensure a good rate of return on ones investment. (...)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile a shadowy international financier with an accent shorts Boeing stock *again*

      Mr Goldfinger, I presume?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Cliff

    Duracell

    That's all I need to say on the matter.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Duracell

      Not likely! The cabin will be full of stupid pink rabbits banging cymbals.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Screamliner

    I hereby request that this meme is used to refer to all future posts about the Dreamliner.

    That is all.

    -Anon

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re. Screamliner

      More like Nightmareliner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re. Screamliner

      Whatever has failed, naming their plane Dreamliner was tempting fate perhaps...

      Has been a bit of a nightmare.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re. Screamliner

      "I hereby request that this meme is used to refer to all future posts about the Dreamliner."

      That's really unfair on Boeing, who will probably take years to live down this second problem.

      Unfortunately for them "Screamliner" is damm funny.

    4. xyz
      Coat

      Re: Re. Screamliner

      I'd go with Deathglider (from Stargate)

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Re. Screamliner

        Perhaps the 787 is becoming Boeing's 'Comet' aircraft.

        This is karma for me as I worked for a while at the old De Haviland factory where the Comet's were built.

        For those who don't know, the Comet was the worlds first production Jet Aircraft build solely to carry passengers. There were a few cases where they literally 'fell out of the sky'. Most of the problems were due to metal fatigue although the almost square windows didn't help with the stresses one little bit.

        The Comet 4 series solved all that and gave many years of happy service to a number of airlines.

        Boeing was able to learn from the Comet's problems and make the 707 a real success.

        A side effect of this was the setting up of the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Board) and it was their painstaking reconstruction of a crashed airframe that led to the discovery of the fatigue problems. This is turn tightened up the safety rules for all comercial aircraft much of which is still in force today. They were the people who rebuilt the PAN-AM 747 that was blown up over Lockerbie thus pinpointing where the explosion has occurred.

        1. Clive Harris
          Flame

          Re: Comets and bean-counters

          In a sense, the Comet crashes were the result of penny-pinching. The engineers had come up with an elaborate (and expensive) technique for fixing the panels together which involved chemical bonding, drilling and riveting. The bean-counters then stepped in and decided to cut costs. After all, we're joining two bits of metal together. What's complicated about that? What could possibly go wrong? Their solution was to omit the chemical bonding and then bang in a load of self-piercing rivets (basically nailing it together). Sure they left a few cracks around the sides of the rivets, but think of all the money saved! Of course, when it all came apart at 35000 feet, the engineers got blamed for not anticipating this, and not building in enough margin of strength to allow for it.

          Any engineer who's been around for a while designing things will know how infuriating it is when the bean-counters decide to alter your perfect design in the interests of cost-saving, convinced they know better than you, and with no idea of the technical implications of the changes they're making. Usually the consequences are not quite as disastrous, but I've had cases where a design of mine was made positively dangerous because a bean-counter replaced a safety-critical part with something cheaper (and which the sales rep said was "just as good").

          (I'm starting to get hot under the collar about this, so I think I'd better use the "Fire" icon)

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Comets and bean-counters

            "In a sense, the Comet crashes were the result of penny-pinching. The engineers had come up with an elaborate (and expensive) technique for fixing the panels together which involved chemical bonding, drilling and riveting. The bean-counters then stepped in and decided to cut costs. After all, we're joining two bits of metal together. What's complicated about that? What could possibly go wrong? Their solution was to omit the chemical bonding and then bang in a load of self-piercing rivets (basically nailing it together). Sure they left a few cracks around the sides of the rivets, but think of all the money saved! Of course, when it all came apart at 35000 feet, the engineers got blamed for not anticipating this, and not building in enough margin of strength to allow for it."

            It started long before that. De Havilland wanted to keep the engine work in the group.

            Trouble was they did not have a decent sized engine to do this. So they reduced the wall thickness a lot. Not quite tin foil but not much thicker.

            DH then were terrified Boeing would be in the market before them so they skipped the fatigue tests. And of course that saved quit a bit of money.

            Bad idea as it turned out. . By the time they got their s**t together and fixed the problems Boeing was well entrenched. Couple that with Duncan Sandys death warrant to the UK miltary aircraft industry in 1957 and the rest is history.

            DH always seemed to have a problem with their structures once they left plywood.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Comets and bean-counters

            And the 787 is the Dreamliner. But it's a beancounter's dream, not an engineer's, not an operator's, not even an insurer's.

            Today's MBA-schooled management beancounters don't seem willing or able or well-informed enough to learn much from well-documented history, especially if the history is incompatible with the Fad of the Week.

            Good job it's their jobs and pensions (and occasionally lives) that are at stake.

            What, they're not carrying the can, because they're not accountable and management never are ? Well fancy that.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Comets and bean-counters

              But these are all interpretations with perfect hindsight.

              When looking into the future, things are not at all clear and clear-cut.

              Several engineers will queue at the door and say that there is a problem with this and that.

              Sure there is. But what do? Maybe make a bad call. Maybe launch the Shuttle. Maybe leave it on pad. Maybe fix this nagging problem with the foam coming off. Maybe not. Maybe the risk analysis is good and you will just be unlucky.

              If things go wrong, finger-pointing and the blame game will start. Then the prepared engineer has a copy of his "letter to management" in the drawer that he wrote two years ago...

  10. David Roberts Silver badge
    Trollface

    Two for the price of one?

    Now if it turns out that someone left a Samsung Galaxy S3 up in the tail, you could have two scare stories for the price of one.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody health and safety culture gone mad.

    It was only mildly on fire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      always a good thing when the plane is only "mildly" on fire, larger fires tend to disturb the awesome movies and the wonderful food ....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well I guess that's a fair point - it wont really show too much if the Ethiopians get mildly burnt...

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Clarkson's 'lightly killed' phrase.

      1. Grease Monkey

        That's not Clarkson's phrase. As I dyed in the wool Python fan I'm sure he'd be able to tell you where the phrase comes from.

    4. Grease Monkey

      @DijitulSupport I assume your comment refers to the fact that the runways were closed. That's nothing to do with health and safety culture gone mad, but very sensible rules and regs. When the fire crews are otherwise occupied takeoffs and landings are suspended. Imagine what would happen if a plane full of passengers crash landed and there were no emergency crews available. And don't tell me it doesn't happen. What happened in San Francisco the other day?

  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Repair will be the issue...

    Who cares what the original cause of the fire was? All we know at the moment is that these fires CAN happen, and that the body of a Dreamliner is made of carbon composite...

    People will be watching the cost, duration and techniques involved in repairing this with considerable interest. Assuming that it can be repaired...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Repair will be the issue...

      "the body of a Dreamliner is made of carbon composite"

      Oh Noes! Carbon! Burning! Pollution and global warming! Carbon! That's COAL!!!1!! And it's BURNING!!11!

      S'ok. I've got my coat. The asbestos one.

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    You'll never get me up in one of those things!

    Especially if its a ryan air one!

  14. AlgernonFlowers4

    No Highway in the Sky

    Did they take the temperature changes into account? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Highway_in_the_Sky)

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No they are not

    The batteries are not under the spotlight as the fire isn't in the battery area.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anomalous Cowshed

    Chronicles of the Burning Boeing

    The chosen people, the people of the Battery, travelled to the holy place where the Heath meets the Row, and there on the vast and beloved tarmac, the anointed one, Pilot Jones, knelt before the Burning Boeing, which spoke unto him, and through him handed down the Manual of Boeingology which our people have followed ever since.

    1. DanceMan
      Thumb Up

      Re: Chronicles of the Burning Boeing

      Upvoted just for "Burning Boeing."

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the AAIB press release says:

    "it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship. "

    http://www.aaib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Boeing%20787-8%20ET-AOP%20Press%20Release.pdf

    El Reg has a tariff somewhere.

    How much is an apology for being wrong worth?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that's where all those recalled Apple iPod Nano batteries went?

  21. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  22. James Pickett

    Composites do seem to burn more easily than aluminium, but I suppose it's an improvement on the dope-covered fabric used on the Hindenberg...

  23. paulc

    Penny pinching biting back?

    "but the blaze caused air traffic controllers to shut both runways as a precaution until the fire was brought under control with flame-retardant chemicals."

    this would be because they don't keep enough fire crews and appliances around to provide proper cover for the airport while they're dealing with an incident.

    Just imagine how much money was lost because all the runways were closed while this was being dealt with.

    1. Squander Two

      "how much money was lost because all the runways were closed"

      It'll be a tiny fraction of the cost of providing permanent round-the-clock cover sufficient to deal with two fires breaking out at the same airport at the same time -- which is, after all, pretty bloody unlikely. And it's not as if there's no backup from local non-airport fire stations.

      Choosing not to pay to guard against every single possible thing that could go wrong, no matter how rare or unlikely, is not penny-pinching; it's reasoned allocation of limited resources.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "how much money was lost because all the runways were closed"

        "how much money was lost because all the runways were closed"

        It'll be a tiny fraction of the cost of [two incident] permanent round-the-clock cover sufficient to deal"

        In the case of the latest Dreamliner incident, LHR reportedly already were dealing with two incidents, one of which has had very little coverage (a PIA incident?). Details hard to find.

        That aside, who picks up the consequential costs such as passengers in the wrong airport at the wrong time, aircraft in the wrong airport at the wrong time, etc?

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Ayrton Senna

    ET-AOP

    All

    This has been caused not by the apu batteries or anyone smoking in the crew rest area. Its impossible for the latter as rhe Ethiopian birds dont have a crew rest area.

    its been caused far from the apu and batteriew in the galley area of the aircraft probably by a coffee machine that was left on to boil dry and catch fire.

    the plane is also written off due to extensive damage to the tail plane attachment area where the elevator controls are situated.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      @AyrtonSenna

      probably by a coffee machine that was left on to boil dry and catch fire

      I would have hoped that the cooking equipment on an airliner has overheat cut-out switches. My kettle at home has, and it's not even a Dreamkettle.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seriously? There are airliner galley component manufacturers who still make kettles without thermal cut-outs that add less than a couple of pennies to the manufacturing cost? What idiot thought that was a good idea?

      And which bean-counter is about to be fired with extreme prejudice for recommending its purchase for Ethopian?

      Also: did the errant device burn for eight hours without anybody noticing? If so, that's actually a pretty good demonstration of the quality of the fuselage's construction. Surviving a spreading conflagration that nobody is bothering to put out for that long is an excellent result and Boeing should be proud if this was the case. Yes, it's a write-off, but passenger aircraft are designed on the assumption that fire alarms will be responded to and fires will be put out. No other plane would do any better.

      Re. fire-fighting crew capabilities: how many simultaneous burning plane incidents should Heathrow Airport allow for? Two? Five? Ten? You have to draw the line somewhere, and it's not as if Heathrow sees plane fires and crashes multiple times a day, despite the temptation to do so at the mere thought of having to deal with Heathrow's notorious baggage-misplacement facilities.

  26. Acme Fixer

    <<It was only mildly on fire.>>

    Well, DUH! When an airplane is made out of plastic (carbon fiber composite), there's no such thing as MILDLY!

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019