787 batteries 'replaced 10 times'

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  1. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    || 787 batteries 'replaced 10 times' ||

    Also of note the following articles:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-...ry-particles-for-clues-in-japan-air-fire.html

    and

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/..._pragmatic-revision-dreamliner-japan-airlines


    I was surprised to learn that JAL wasn't required to notify the Transport Ministry of Japan about the battery swapping, I wonder how other airlines and agencies handled this, especially seeing now that all Boeing 787's are grounded around the world. Overall, some interesting revelations came to light too, as reported incl. easing of regulations in Japan, especially for technology which is used for the Boeing 787 and is "Made in Japan". Interesting food for thoughts on how a government handles such project, which can be described as " flagship projects " IMHO.
     
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  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

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  3. daboogah

    daboogah Silver Member

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    probably has something to do with saving face esp since ANA and the LDP (ruling party in Japan) are so close. ANA contributed more than 20M USD to the LDP party in the past elections and many of the LDP officials were already ministers who helped "speed" up the approval process for getting the 787 suppliers lined up. SO.. as inefficient as the govt in Japan is, it also shows how they can screw things up so fast. Even when things like the radiation fiasco with TEPCO was going on, the govt has never learned to be honest. such a shame esp since I carry a red passport.
     
  4. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    There are reports called Service Difficulty Reports (SDR) by the FAA that are made whenever unusual maintenance or other service oddities happen, but reporting is mostly at the discretion of mechanics. I do not know about Japan. If each event was independent and presented no obvious problem other than a simple failure it is reasonable that they might not be reported to a regulator. OTOH, they DID report them to Boeing, probably with respect to warranty or some such. Question: when did Boeing advise the Japanese and US authorities of the service problem?

    There are a number of innocuous reasons why that might have happened happen, but in retrospect they don't look innocuous, do they?

    Personally I don't think that was a major factor, probably not at all. They did report this to Boeing. There are Boeing, Thales, Meggitt and then Yuasa, among others. Somehow defensiveness does not seem to have played a role here. Could I be wrong about that? Absolutely. BTW, after decades of living in, working for and working with Japanese firms I am well aware of cultural, really administrative, issues that can impede free communication of problems. I have faked drunkenness a few times to deliver late night bad news. This just does not seem like that sort of situation to me, but I would not presume that it hasn't massive potential to become one of those situations, and maybe has already done so. I do not thing the initial battery failure reporting was part of such an issue.
     
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  5. daboogah

    daboogah Silver Member

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    the problem is in the culture there. Look at the fiasco right after the earthquake. Govt blaming corporate TEPCO and TEPCO asking for govt bailout. You have companies like Yuasa, ANA , JAL (at the time already in bankruptcy) that have so much govt regulations in a manual driven Japan. Then you have enough LDP members consulting for ANA and you have a sped up process to approve and skip over steps. Now you have issues on a plane and no one is quite sure who. But we know the batteries are from Japan. we also know many of the governors built into the plane were from Japan. I would assume ANA/ JAL had to let Boeing know since these batteries arent the type to walk into a CVS and pick up off the shelf. and im not too sure about you folks but when I have to keep replacing batteries for a product I just bought, I would be pissed. Esp considering the batteries cost a wee bit more than the duracell ones I saw on sale last week. But as an airline, there is a duty and responsibility for the safety of passengers. If batteries not charging, undercharging were not a concern enough for ANA... abunai yo. Makes me think twice about the company for sure. Esp since GF is being told different stories from her colleagues that were on the plane that made the emergency landing.
     
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  6. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

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    Hmm... I'm not sure what to make of most of this. It reads like you are assuming that the batteries and charging systems were selected and purchased by ANA and JAL. They were not. They were selected and purchased by Boeing for all 787s. The batteries were designed specifically for the 787 project and are almost certainly single-vendor exclusive products. (EDITED TO ADD: And that selection was likely made before either ANA or JAL had ever sat down at a table with Boeing to place an actual order for the 787).

    And you're right that they cost more than duracell AA cells. I think I remember reading in one report that it's $16k for each battery pack.
     
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  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    But potential purchasers' preferences, rational or nationalistic, no doubt
    informed the choice of component suppliers.
     
  8. daboogah

    daboogah Silver Member

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    @autolycus, sorry I wasnt trying to indicate that ANA or JAL directly influenced the providers. I was part of a procurement team when I was with an airline in my past life and we would go up to everett field almost monthly to discuss what Boeing was purchasing from who and we would also give our feedback in the best interest of the friendly skies. Of course the airline I worked for wasnt the only airline to ever fly the product but as a launch customer, we had tremendous say in what Boeing purchased from who. Not too sure if it happened here but since I work with Japanese on an almost daily basis, I would imagine something very close happened. Who knows. Not to jack the thread but its sad that in an industry where safety should be foremost, something as important as batteries not working properly wouldnt be enough of a concern to ground the planes in the first place before something happened. esp on a plane like a 787 where is so much more dependent on the battery. Again, outside of the fact GF has been on the 787 when a door alert light chimed on during a pushback and she had to physically keep it closed until they got back to the gate (or the chute could have popped) or the electronics where every video stopped working or galley lights blinking so bad they had to work in the dark a few times. oh.. course ANA made sure CA's dont go public with that of course.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Elon Musk (of Tesla/SpaceX fame) chimes in:

    The lithium ion batteries installed on the Boeing 787 are inherently unsafe, says Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and owner of electric car maker Tesla.
    "Unfortunately, the pack architecture supplied to Boeing is inherently unsafe," writes Musk in an email to Flightglobal.
    "Large cells without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect means it is simply a matter of time before there are more incidents of this nature," he adds
    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/elon-musk-boeing-787-battery-fundamentally-unsafe-381627/
     
  10. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Boeing won't axe Dreamliner battery


    More:http://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/world-news/boeing-wont-axe-dreamliner-battery-3370880.html

    So, Boeing still sees not a " real " problem with the batteries, I now wonder what it takes?
     
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  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Indeed.

    100 batteries in 50 Dreamliners replaced. How many Boeings are there operating every day that 100/50 is slightly higher than 2000 / X ?
     
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  12. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

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    To be completely fair, the ratio may not be quite as bad as 100/50 because a number of the replacements have probably occurred on their test airframes as well as on airframes that have not yet been delivered to customers. Your point is still completely correct though. The replacement rate is obviously much higher for the 787 than for other models.
     
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  13. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    Is McNerney just putting on a brave face, or does he really think of this issue to be a minor glitch?
    100 batteries failing on any program is not something to treat in a casual manner.
     
  14. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Look at it from his perspective. They had a wing break during testing, requiring complete redesign, then a wing box had to be redone. Those were major structures. Comparatively speaking, this is less serious from a repair standpoint, even if they do eventually drop their volatile chemistry.
     
  15. deant
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    You have a few issues here. First, each battery has a "shelf life". Since the 787 was delayed so long, I am sure that some of the replacements were because the batteries went out of shelf life and were procedurally mandated to be replaced. Nothing may have been wrong with those batteries. We don't know what percentage of the replacements were for that reason. You also remove a battery if it has been severely discharged. This discharge could be due to leaving the lights on without ground / apu power (think of leaving your car lights on and draining the battery). Procedures state that you replace the battery if this happens (extra safety measure because the batteries can be recharged after a deep discharge). Again, we don't know how many replacements were for this reason.

    Bottom line is that Boeing may not have had many true failures of the battery / charging system.....we don't have enough information.

    As for finding the root cause, it can be a very difficult thing because the evidence has been destroyed. Try finding a microscopic particle in a battery that has been burned. Impossible. I am sure that Boeing is dissecting numerous batteries from the same lot date codes of any "failed" battery to try and find the true root cause.
     
  16. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    Spoken like a true engineer.:)
    This root cause thing and other jargon takes me back to my working days.
     
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  17. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    That's extremely unlikely. Li battery chemistry has the longest shelf life (10~20 yrs) of all that's on the market today. I would rather focus on vendor inexperience. Prior to the Boeing's contract, GS Yuasa was known only for their ancient Lead-Acid batteries. And Li-ion technology is still relatively young , tricky to scale up, and requires cutting edge competence. From a technical perspective, Boeing's vendor selection might seem bizarre (to put it mildly). Of course we now know about the political and marketing pressures behind their decision process.
     
  18. deant
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    deant Milepoint Guide

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    The reason I mentioned the shelf life is because of an Aviation Leak report that states the following:
    "Specifically referring to the 787 battery, the airframer adds, “We have not seen 787 battery replacements occurring as a result of safety concerns. The batteries are being returned because our robust protection scheme ensures that no battery that has been deeply discharged or improperly disconnected can be used. The third-highest category for battery returns is exceeding the battery shelf life—this is a fact of life in dealing with batteries; they sometimes expire and must be returned.”

    I agree with your other comments that Li-ion technology is still very new and is having its own growing pains.
     
  19. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing that source. I'm not familiar with Aviation Leak reports. But those excuses from "the airframer" about robust protection scheme and shelf life are complete garbage. Also there's no rechargeable battery system to my knowledge that's harmed by being fully charged or fully discharged.
     
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  20. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

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    Really? I've read numerous research papers and studies showing the Li-Ion batteries suffer from significant capacity loss when they go through deep discharge cycles. The papers also show that storing Li-Ion batteries at full charge or at high temperatures also leads to fairly significant capacity loss compared to when stored at a 40-60% charge level.

    Here's a good example of what I have always read about Li-Ion battery life:
    How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries


    Do you have a specific reason to dispute this conventional wisdom? If so I'd be genuinely interested to read about it.
     
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  21. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    Indeed your reference claims that partial discharge cycles increase the lifespan of small smartphone batteries by several thousand cycles. Manufacturers of larger Li-ion batteries for laptops recommend exactly the opposite, i.e. that the complete discharge cycles are optimal for their products. There's probably more than a single mode of failure of Li-ion batteries to explain the differences, and this is not the right forum to debate them.

    My comment about the "discharge" excuse was not intended to imply that I know what's the optimal operation of that battery for thousands of cycles. Only that a single discharge cycle would not be a sane reason to return an otherwise "good battery".
     
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  22. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Lithium batteries, regardless of specific chemistry, become incapable of accepting normal charges when discharged to less than about 20% of capacity, according to much that I have read. Laptops and otehr devices that carry Li-Ion batteries almost always indicate zero and shut down when that limit approaches IIRC. It is hi-cad batteries that require "deep cycling" periodically top retain full capacity and lost capacity if not periodically run to the maximum discharge. Possibly some device instructions do not make that important change in instructions when they update user manuals.
     
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  23. horseguy

    horseguy Gold Member

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    The reason laptop manufacturers recommend full charge and discharge is so that you will kill your battery and buy a $200 to $300 replacement battery from them for your $899 laptop. IAC, the link autolycus provided to batteryuniversity is what I actually intended to add to this discussion. IMHO, batteryuniversity.com is the platinum standard for learning how batteries work.

    As to a battery being harmed by a complete discharge, look no farther than the starter battery in your car. A complete discharge of that has a non-trivial chance of destroying it. I've personally managed that trick three times in my life.
     
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  24. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

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    That's probably a little harsh. :p The real reason for the recommendation is that the battery controller needs some regular calibrating to know the actual capacity of the battery. What they're not showing the user is that "0%" doesn't really mean the battery is completely discharged. 0% is probably really 20% +/- 10%. I disagree with the routine of doing a full charge-discharge-charge cycle every month, but I don't think they're recommending it for strictly nefarious reasons.

    jbcarioca is correct that Nickel-based batteries like NiCd and NiMH can suffer from "lazy battery" effects or "memory" effects due to the internal chemistry changes that result from overcharging the cell. That effect can be reversed to some extent by deep cycling the battery. The deep cycles do, however, come at a cost of reduced shelf life. But hey, when the battery performs like crap already, isn't a reduced but still useful shelf life better than no useful life at all?

    This is, of course, all part of the discussion of why Boeing isn't just pulling something out of their hiney when they say that a number of the battery replacements were fully expected under normal operations and do not indicate a safety problem with the battery. I also believe that Boeing would be completely prudent to pull batteries earlier now than they might in the future because the battery packs are a new design, and pulling them early before expected failure is the cautious approach. We also don't know what was done with the batteries that were replaced aside from them being sent back to the manufacturer. It seems completely reasonable, and wise, to me that both Boeing and the vendor would want to put some of the early batteries back on a test bed to see what they look like after some real world use. I would think if any such tests are being run, they should be run on batteries with a variety of life spans but should not be done after a battery has started failing.
     
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  25. horseguy

    horseguy Gold Member

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    I agree it isn't for completely nefarious reasons, but I'll put it at 98% nefarious. The kind of calibration you mention does not require a complete cycle every single bloody time (or even monthly). Also, consider that the profit margins on the laptops are tiny, but the profits on the replacement batteries are HUGE. You can see where the incentives might take the manufacturer.

    As to your comments on Boeing's situation, you are spot on. BTW, did you hear about Elon Musk's offer to help Boeing? His companies, SpaceX and Tesla, both have extensive experience with lithium ion batteries and in even more difficult environments than the 787. An article about Boeing blowing him off is here: http://www.businessinsider.com/elon...-batteries-are-fundamentally-dangerous-2013-1

    It is particularly troubling that Musk believes the large batteries in the 787 can never be made safe.
     
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