Posted by: pizzainmotion | April 17, 2013

FAA Publicly Acknowledges Boeing Has Completed 787 Tests

In the most visible sign that we’re getting closer to the 787 flying again, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FAA has acknowledged Boeing has submitted everything they need for the FAA to make a final decision on the 787 returning to flight:

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Chicago plane maker “has completed all required tests and analysis” of battery fixes to its 787 Dreamliner, including providing an extensive set of documents intended to demonstrate their safety. 

While I do consider this good news, there are some comments from Huerta that give me pause:

The final decision is up to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who on Monday said it would come “soon,” but suggested that he wouldn’t be rushed. 

I’m not a big Ray LaHood fan.  But, this strikes me as more bluster, albeit not at the previous levels where he essentially backed himself into a corner saying things like:

he publicly pledged it wouldn’t take off again with passengers until investigators determined the precise cause of the overheating batteries and regulators felt “1,000% sure” of the plane’s safety. 

There’s been no precise cause indicated for the issues, rather a cascading set of issues that everyone believes lead to the issues.  There is no doubt in my mind these are serious issues, and I don’t mean to minimize the importance of safety as it relates to all planes.

There was a crash of a brand new Lion Air 737-800 in Indonesia recently, thankfully nobody was hurt.  The initial suggestion is that the problem might have been wind shear.  Lion Air doesn’t have the greatest safety record, but one can safely assume that the airplane was still flight-worthy one month after delivery as a brand new plane.  Nobody is suggesting we should ground the entire 737-800 fleet because this incident has no clear explanation.

I’m biased, but if the FAA has publicly acknowledged that Boeing has completed everything asked of them, the FAA should work very diligently to give Boeing a final answer.  There are millions of dollars at stake every day the 787 stays parked.

The FAA has an obligation to complete this process in a timely manner.

Hey Ray, you should feel rushed.

 


Responses

  1. The Seattle Times has been covering this in some detail for obvious reasons. I don’t know if the following from yesterday represents a potential hitch:

    “FAA revisits 787’s OK for lengthy overwater flights”

    http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2020793178_787etopsxml.html

  2. I hope to see quick approval for flights, but I also hope to see its ETOPS heavily cut back.

    ETOPS was originally given based on in-use proof, but its now been cut back to essentially ‘show us your math’. In this case, that math said, ‘based on our amazing safeguards, the chance of a massive battery fault is once in ‘. It then occurred twice in a week. So to blindly trust Boeing’s design and math again, instead of enforcing the in-use history previous planes had to meet, seems like a stupid choice.

    • Odd, the parser cut out my number. Anyways, ‘once in a very huge number’.

    • Ryan, I can’t disagree with your opinion here. There is a significant difference between 2 and 4 engines. And, the drastic difference in how this plane was manufactured (spread out around the globe) may lead to more bugs.

  3. […] Wednesday I voiced my strong support for the FAA to act quickly now that they had all the info they needed.  I was pretty sure they would drag their feet. […]

  4. […] Ray LaHood should get a decent amount of the credit for turning this into a game of sport.  Couple that with his bloviating on the 787, and Ray’s not exactly a “man of the people” when it comes to making decisions […]


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