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Boeing seeks temporary fix for batteries: Seattle Times

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a high pressure vent to contain any fire that erupts in flight.

That's reassuring. They're saying, "we may have a fire aboard your flight, but don't worry, we'll be ready for it." I bet ANA and the others will be really happy about that.

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If Boeing does this "temporary fix" and the planes do get airborne, what's keeping ANA and JAL from covering up more problems?

From what I understand, this temporary fix will just make sure the battery fire would be extinguished ASAP. But the problem and the fact still remains ... the battery still had a thermal runaway.

The main problem is not the venting outside the battery, but the sudden increase of temperature inside. Chemical reaction? Poor quality materials? Or just really unstable lithium-ion components?

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Now we need to ask the question: How important are these batteries while in-flight? Are they used as backup in any way while airborne? Would they be needed to jumpstart some system in some way? Or are they only used while on the ground? While we can "contain" them sufficiently to preclude fire/smoke problems it won't do any good if the things are rendered useless when actually needed. Someone please reassure me here.

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How about replacing the batteries for now with ones that do not have that problem?

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How about replacing them with batteries made by a non-Japanese company? Preferably a company that takes responsibility for their product .

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JeffLeeFeb. 19, 2013 - 07:42AM JST

That's reassuring. They're saying, "we may have a fire aboard your flight, but don't worry, we'll be ready for it." I bet ANA and the others will be really happy about that.

What about the life jacket under your seat? Or the emergency lighting? Or the life rafts at the sides? Oxygen masks? I bet you never really thought it through... Safety precautions are always there, it doesn't mean you'll ever need to use them though.

BuzzBFeb. 19, 2013 - 09:13AM JST

Now we need to ask the question: How important are these batteries while in-flight? Are they used as backup in any way while airborne? Would they be needed to jumpstart some system in some way? Or are they only used while on the ground?

I've answered that questions a dozen times this month, the batteries are the second backup while in flight, but also used as primary power before the engines are turned on. ALL commercial aircraft have batteries, but 787 has more energy requirements due to heavy reliance on electrical power for things normally taken care of through mechanical power from the engines.

While we can "contain" them sufficiently to preclude fire/smoke problems it won't do any good if the things are rendered useless when actually needed. Someone please reassure me here.

If a large number of packs burn, worst that can happen is that the systems shut down your AC and entertainment system to save power. Most failures, including the two that happened already, would actually do nothing to the flight other than light up some warning lights for the captain to see.

YuriOtaniFeb. 19, 2013 - 09:25AM JST

How about replacing the batteries for now with ones that do not have that problem?

FPSRussiaFeb. 19, 2013 - 09:37AM JST

How about replacing them with batteries made by a non-Japanese company? Preferably a company that takes responsibility for their product .

Eagle Picher is still 6-8 months out from being able to provide alternative batteries based on the much safer lithium phosphate tech, and any other batteries would have several issues:

1) They would have to get certified for the 787

2) The entire battery management system, not just the battery, would need to be entirely swapped out, and that could cause more problems than it's worth

3) With the loss of at least a ton (1000kg) of cargo capacity, you're looking at higher check in bag fees

For now, the only batch with problems is the batch used in the two burnout cases, which is likely a manufacturing error that has long been corrected anyway.

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What a shame!! I'm looking forward to flying on these Dreamliners but now?????

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There was plenty of brown staining on the outside of the ANA fuelage in Takamatsu, showing that venting worked to some degree. Presumably as the crew and passengers noticed an acrid smell, and we know these Lion batteries produce carcinogenic, poisonous gases when in runaway, the venturi system will be bigger next time? Hope they also run tests on how the carbon fiber fuselage stands up to high heat exposure during venting.

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A 'temporary fix', eh? Hate to break it to Boeing, but this kind of mentality is why you're having problems to begin with. Take some time, and fix it right.

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@jefflee

do you know how much fire and high pressure there is inside a jet engine?

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A 'temporary fix', eh? Hate to break it to Boeing, but this kind of mentality is why you're having problems to begin with. Take some time, and fix it right.

Sure no problem... as soon as you tell them what caused the thermal runaway. Oh, not sure? Neither are they. They can't reproduce this event even after repeated tries.

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do you know how much fire and high pressure there is inside a jet engine?

Yes, and you may notice that the engines are placed OUTSIDE, not inside the fuselage. Would you want to sit within a few meters of a burning engine? Hey, you made the comparison.

What about the life jacket under your seat?

Inane comparison, but I'll play. The life jackets are not there as a workaround for a specific design error.

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@jefflee Oops, forgot the fuel tanks. do you know how much explosive material is in them? Point is, treated carefully, it all works. Add some safeguards, and it all makes sense to me. As for life jackets, well, what are they for exactly? Decoration? Or as a contingency to cover the fact that something -could- go wrong?

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