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The Latest: Boeing Dreamliner Investigation

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been marketed as an innovative, long-range, mid-sized twin-engine jet that is highly fuel efficient. It uses composite materials in the airframe, as well as electrical flight systems. Initially rolled out in 2007, there were delays in bringing the plane to market, which invited scrutiny on the plane's large supplier network.

On Jan. 16, the FAA issued an emergency directive that grounds all Boeing 787s in the US following two incidents, including one fire, involving lithium-ion batteries. It was the first time the FAA had issued a general grounding of an aircraft model since 1979. Several other countries, including Japan and India, followed suit. 

This is a roundup of the latest news about the Dreamliner investigation, including the latest directly from Boeing on the status of the probe:

May 21, 2013
Good News For Boeing: 787 Dreamliner Deliveries Resume And United Takes Off - Forbes
Airlines returned the 787 Dreamliner to service flying from Houston to Chicago on 20 May. The airline expects to launch international Dreamliner flights on a number of routes, including Denver-Tokyo, Houston-London, Los Angeles-Tokyo, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Houston-Lagos.

May 15, 2013
Boeing to fix batteries on all Dreamliner jets by end-May - Reuters
Boeing Co (BA.N) will complete fixing the batteries in all 50 of its high-tech 787 Dreamliner jets by the end of this month, Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president for sales in Asia Pacific, told Reuters on Wednesday.

May 10, 2013
Boeing makes 787s faster; could boost fourth-quarter deliveries - Reuters
Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Thursday it has succeeded in getting its factories to churn out 787 Dreamliners at a faster pace this week, a change that came sooner than expected and positions the plane maker to possibly deliver more of the high-tech jet than forecast.
 
May 2, 2013
Boeing to compensate Air India for grounding of Dreamliners: Government - The Economic Times
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has agreed to compensate Air India for the grounding of the Dreamliner aircraft due to battery-fire incidents, Rajya Sabha was informed today.

April 26, 2013
Japan to allow airlines to resume Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights - Fox News
Japan's transport minister said Friday the government is poised to allow Japanese airlines to resume flying grounded Boeing 787s once they complete installation of systems to reduce fire risk in problematic lithium ion batteries.

April 19, 2013 
FAA approves fix for Boeing 787 battery - Los Angeles Times
Changes the agency will require before allowing flights to resume include having airlines with 787s install containment and venting systems for the batteries. 

Boeing Stock Jumps as Dreamliner Crisis Nears End - Fox Business
Investors sent Boeing Co's stock higher on Friday as regulators appeared poised to end a three-month grounding of the high-tech airliner that cost millions of dollars and hurt the reputation of the world's largest planemaker.

April 12, 2013
Qatar Airways CEO confident that Boeing's 787 will fly soon - Reuters
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said on Thursday he was confident that Boeing's (BA.N) 787 Dreamliner would be cleared to fly and carry passengers again soon, but he couldn't predict when that would be.

April 9, 2013
Boeing Completes Final 787 Battery Test, Awaits FAA Approval - Wired
Federal Aviation Administration officials flew aboard a Boeing 787 for a test of the airliner’s new battery system that included “normal and non-normal flight conditions” and went off without a hitch.

April 4, 2013
Boeing: Dreamliner testing more than half done - USA Today
Boeing said it has finished more than half of the testing on its proposed battery fix for the 787, with the rest of the ground and flight tests coming in the next several days. The test results so far have been in line with the testing Boeing did when it was developing the fix, spokesman Marc Birtel said on Wednesday.

April 2, 2013
ANA to put pilots through Dreamliner resumption training: sources - Reuters
All Nippon Airways, the biggest customer for Boeing Co's grounded 787 Dreamliner, will put its pilots through training to resume flights in June, sources told Reuters, after Boeing completed more than half of its tests to get its new battery system certified.

April 1, 2013
Air India wants $37M for Boeing 787 grounding - Puget Soiund Business Journal 

Air India reportedly wants $37 million from Boeing Co. for its losses associated with the grounding of the company's 787 fleet. Bloomberg reports Air India, with six Dreamliners in its fleet, is one of several airlines that will have compensation claims against Boeing (NYSE: BA).

March 29, 2013
Japan's ANA keeps Boeing 787 in June schedule for now - The Economic Times
Japan's All Nippon Airways Co Ltd (ANA) said on Friday it had not decided whether to cancel flights using Boeing's 787 flights in the month of June, citing progress in getting the troubled jet back in the air.

March 26, 2013
Boeing Begins 787 Test Flights - The Wall Street Journal
Boeing Co. began the first in a series of 787 Dreamliner test flights Monday, preparing for regulators to evaluate changes to its lithium-ion battery system and marking another step in the plane maker's effort to return the jet to commercial service.

March 25, 2013
Old planes keep flying as Dreamliners stay on ground - The Age Traveller
Japan's All Nippon Airways will delay retiring four aircraft to help maintain services already hit by the grounding of its entire fleet of troubled 787 Dreamliners, Kyodo News reported on Saturday. International regulators grounded all Boeing Dreamliner jets in January after a battery on a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire and forced an ANA flight to make an emergency landing.

March 22, 2013
Boeing plans to lay off 800 machinists - The Seattle Times
Boeing said Friday it will lay off some 800 machinists by the end of this year as workforce needs on its newest jet programs, the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo jet, are reduced. Company spokesman Doug Alder said other reductions will be made through attrition so that the total number of positions cut this year will be between 2,000 and 2,300.

March 21, 2013
Boeing test flights of 787 upgrade possible this week - Chicago Tribune
Boeing Co. plans to conduct two flight tests of its revamped 787 battery system, possibly as soon as the end of the week, according to three sources familiar with the matter. The 787 flights, the first since February, would mark another step toward Boeing's recently announced goal of returning the grounded jet to service in a matter of weeks, not months.

March 18, 2013
Boeing's 787 Battery Undergoes Tough Tests - Fox Business
To get its 787 Dreamliner flying again, Boeing Co is testing the plane's volatile battery system to a rigorous standard that the company itself helped develop -- but that it never used on the jet. Boeing's decision has thrust an arcane standard known as RTCA to the center of the debate over whether Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were rigorous enough when they originally set standards for the 787 battery system in October 2007. 
 
March 15, 2013
Boeing sees 787 airborne in weeks with fortified battery - Reuters
Boeing Co said its 787 Dreamliner jets could be airborne within weeks with a fortified power pack that would eliminate the risk of fire, confident the U.S. aviation authority would approve the redesigned battery soon.

March 13, 2013
U.S. Backs Boeing Plan for Testing 787 Battery - The New York Times
Boeing achieved a major milestone on Tuesday as the Federal Aviation Administration approved its plan to test fixes for the battery problems that have grounded its 787 jets since mid-January. Boeing’s new battery design includes better protection in case a battery overheats. The F.A.A. could still demand changes if problems develop in the laboratory and flight tests.

March 6, 2013
FAA faces obstacles in approving Boeing Dreamliner fix - Chicago Tribune
Boeing said this week it can move "really fast" to get its 787 Dreamliner back into the skies once regulators approve a fix for burning batteries on board the plane. Regulators may not move so quickly. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded Boeing's high-tech jet nearly seven weeks ago, faces unusually tough obstacles in approving it for flight - one of them brought on by the agency's own boss. 

March 5, 2013
Boeing ready to move on 787 fix, if FAA approves - CBS News
Boeing (BA) said Monday that it is set to move quickly to get its 787s back in the air if it gets federal approval for a fix for the batteries that have grounded the planes. The Federal Aviation Administration is considering a plan that Boeing submitted on Feb. 22 for fixing the batteries. The FAA has said it expects its experts to recommend this week whether to accept the plan.

Feb. 26, 2013
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner: Going Nowhere - The Economist
THE PARKING lot at Boeing Field is almost full. The Seattle-based planemaker continues to churn out 787 Dreamliners at the rate of one a week, but the planes remain grounded following incidents in which onboard batteries caught on fire. Twelve jets currently flank Boeing Field’s runway, awaiting delivery to airlines including China Southern, Poland’s LOT and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA). 

Feb. 22, 2013
Chief of Embattled Boeing Steers Clear of the Spotlight - Wall Street Journal
The cutting-edge jetliners Boeing Co. had bet its future on sat grounded, unsettling images of passengers on escape chutes splashed across TV, when Chief Executive Jim McNerney sent handwritten apologies to the chairmen of the airlines whose 787 Dreamliner batteries went up in smoke.

Feb. 19, 2013
Boeing readies short-term battery fix, facing uncertainty - Chicago Tribune
Boeing will propose to regulators as early as this week a short-term fix to bolster the 787's defenses in case of battery fires like those that have kept the jet grounded for the past month.
The goal is to get the planes flying passengers again, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter, while Boeing works on a comprehensive redesign of the lithium-ion battery system that could take nine months or more to implement.

Feb. 14, 2013
Boeing 787 Dreamliner won't fly till October, Polish airline decides - The Gazette
Poland's airline LOT said Thursday it is keeping both its Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded through October while the U.S. aircraft maker seeks to eliminate a potential safety threat that occurred in some planes. LOT president Sebastian Mikosz said he could not schedule the 787s for summer season flights as long as the cause of the technical problems has not been determined and the U.S. aviation authorities’ order to keep them grounded remains in force.

Feb. 12, 2013
Microscopic Crystals Studied by NTSB in 787 Battery Probe - Bloomberg
Tiny crystals that can cause lithium-ion batteries to short-circuit and fail are among areas under investigation in Boeing Co. 787 fire and smoke incidents, according to a U.S. agency conducting the probe. “It’s definitely something we’re looking at,” Kelly Nantel, spokeswoman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said in an interview.

Feb. 11, 2013
Five CEOs Weigh in on the Dreamliner - WSJ
With the next-generation Boeing BA -0.91% 787 Dreamliner still grounded around the world as regulators investigate two worrying battery fires, the company is scrambling to find a fix that can get its plane back in the air and its reputation on the mend. But beyond Boeing, a whole ecosystem of customers and suppliers are also watching the situation closely for impacts on their own businesses. Here’s what a few said in earnings calls in recent weeks.

IAG boss: Boeing to fix Dreamliner but it may be months - Reuters
The chief executive of International Airlines Group said on Saturday he was confident that Boeing would overcome problems with its 787 Dreamliner jet, but added that they could take months to resolve. Uncertainty about the future of Boeing's new lightweight, carbon-composite aircraft is growing after a series of battery related incidents prompted authorities worldwide to ground the jets and forced deliveries to be delayed.

Feb. 7, 2013

NTSB identifies origin of JAL Boeing 787 battery fire
WASHINGTON - At a news conference today, NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman identified the origin of the Jan. 7 battery fire that occurred on a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston Logan Airport, and said that a focus of the investigation will be on the design and certification requirements of the battery system.

Boeing's Real Problem With the Dreamliner: Bean-Counter vs. Engineer - The Atlantic
 If you've read anything about the aerospace industry, odds are that you've seen quotes from Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. I've relied on his advice for years, including in my recent book.So whose views would I like to hear about the causes and possible consequences of the ongoing Boeing 787 Dreamliner problem? Right: R. Aboulafia's. He does so in his latest client newsletter, now also available on line. As discussed previously in this space, the Dreamliner's specific battery problem itself may or may not be diagnosed and resolved sometime soon. But according to Aboulafia the turmoil illustrates a larger trend within the company ...

Feb. 6, 2013
Boeing Preps Redesign to Get 787 Flying Again- WSJ 
Boeing Co. BA +0.52% is proposing a series of battery design changes that it believes would minimize the risks of fire on its 787 Dreamliners and allow the grounded jets to fly again while it continues searching for a longer-term fix, say government and industry officials briefed on the matter.
The company is looking at increasing the separation between cells in the lithium-ion batteries to reduce the potential hazards from heat or fire spreading within the batteries and adding enhanced heat-sensors, these officials said. Boeing also is considering ways to keep cells more rigid, preventing them from shifting under certain conditions and interfering with electronics.


Feb. 5, 2013
Boeing asks FAA to allow Dreamliner test flights
NEW YORK -- Boeing Co has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to conduct test flights of its 787 Dreamliner, suggesting the company is making progress in finding a solution to the battery problems that grounded the entire 787 fleet last month. Boeing said it has submitted an application to conduct test flights. The FAA said only that it is evaluating Boeing's request.

Boeing Dreamliner: Experts Still Stumped Over Burning Batteries
Despite talk of progress, investigators still don't know what caused the dangerous Dreamliner mishaps. As the probe of burning batteries aboard Boeing Co.'s BA +1.88% 787 jets stretches into its second month, an international team of air-accident sleuths remains stumped about the underlying cause, according to people familiar with the details. This has fueled pessimism about how quickly the planes can resume flying.


Feb. 4, 2013
Boeing 787 investigation making progress - Reuters
U.S. officials on Friday said they are making progress in their investigation of a battery fire on a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner in Boston this month, as the grounding of Boeing's entire fleet of 787s stretched into a third week. All 50 Boeing 787s remain grounded as authorities in the United States, Japan and France investigate the Boston battery fire on January 7 and a separate battery failure that forced a second 787 to make an emergency landing in Japan a week later.

Feb. 1, 2013 Boeing 787 Dreamliner 
Japan sending Boeing 787 Dreamliner investigators to United States
Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau is sending investigators looking into problems with Boeing 787 batteries to Seattle, where the aircraft are assembled. The Transport Ministry said members of the team working on the investigation would leave Tokyo on Sunday for Seattle. It provided no further details. 

Airbus says it has a "Plan B" for A350 jet batteries - Reuters
Airbus has studied alternatives to lithium-ion batteries for its next jet, the A350, and has time to adapt to any rule changes prompted by the problems that have grounded Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner, its top executive said. Airbus plans to use lithium-ion batteries on the A350, similar to the technology incorporated in Boeing's 787 airliners, and so far has stood by the modern power packs.

Boeing Stays Course on Stretch 787
Boeing Co. is expected to begin piecing together the next version of its Dreamliner jet in the coming weeks, even without a fix for what has bedeviled the plane's electrical system or a timetable for resuming flights. The new Dreamliner, called the 787-9, would carry about 40 more passengers and fly slightly farther than the current model, which carries around 250. It would use the same electrical system and lithium-ion batteries as the current model.

 

Jan. 31, 2013

Boeing Contract Offer Could Prompt Engineers' Strike- NPR
Boeing is scrambling to figure out why two batteries malfunctioned on its 787 Dreamliner, prompting officials to ground the airplane this month. And at a time when Boeing most needs its skilled engineers, they're weighing a possible strike. Union leaders are considering the company's final contract offer. The standoff between Boeing and about 23,000 engineers and technicians – mostly in the Seattle region – has been brewing for months.

Boeing sticks to production plans, battery for 787 - AP
Boeing is sticking with plans to speed up production of its 787 and sees no reason to drop the troubled lithium-ion batteries at the center of the plane’s problems, chief executive Jim McNerney said Wednesday. A fire and emergency landing earlier this month, both involving the batteries, prompted regulators to ground Boeing’s newest and highest-profile plane.

 Jan. 30, 2013

U.S. investigators ask Boeing for battery history
TOKYO -- U.S. investigators said Wednesday they asked Boeing to provide a full operating history of lithium-ion batteries used in its grounded 787 Dreamliners as Japan's All Nippon Airways revealed it had repeatedly replaced the batteries even before overheating problems surfaced.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the agency made the request after becoming aware of battery problems at ANA that occurred before two recent incidents involving the planes batteries. Boeing has already collected some of the information, he said.

Boeing Battery Was a Concern Before Failure - NYT
Even before two battery failures led to the grounding of all Boeing 787 jets this month, the lithium-ion batteries used on the aircraft had experienced multiple problems that raised questions about their reliability.

NTSB asks Boeing for 787 Battery Records - AP
U.S. regulators said Wednesday they asked Boeing Co. to provide a full operating history of lithium-ion batteries used in its grounded 787 Dreamliners after All Nippon Airways revealed it had repeatedly replaced the batteries even before overheating problems surfaced.

Dreamliner Woes Aren't Slowing Down
 It’s been two weeks since global aviation authorities grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, and investigators still don’t know what’s wrong with the jet, much less how to fix it, or how long that process will take. But Boeing executives say they’re not throttling back production or redesigning the electrical subsystems that seem to be the  root of the problem. “There are no instructions to slow down,” CEO Jim McNerney told analysts and members of the press in a conference call on Wednesday. “It’s business as usual. Let’s keep building airplanes and then let’s ramp up as we planned.”

 Jan. 29, 2013
How Boeing's Dreamliner Was Grounded - The Daily Beast
I did not realize it then, but I was about to fall under the spell of Boeing’s own Greatest Generation, the men—and, more significant, the culture—that produced, in the jet airliner, a machine that shrank the world, democratized air travel, and, for a while, made “Boeing” a universal generic. I was there to interview the small team of engineers, known as the aeromen, who created the Boeing 747, the behemoth soon to be christened the Jumbo by its passengers. I ended up being drawn much deeper into Boeing’s history, back to when airplanes were made of wood and canvas.

Air India to Sell, Leaseback Dreamliner Jets - WSJ
NEW DELHI--Air India Ltd. has invited bids to sell seven 787-800 Dreamliner planes to leasing companies and hire them back even as half a dozen of the Boeing Co. BA -1.08% jets remain grounded.A company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that the sale and leaseback program is part of a plan by the loss-making state-run carrier to raise funds and move toward profitability.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk offers Boeing help with Dreamliner battery issue - Reuters 
DETROIT -- Elon Musk has long considered Tesla Motors (TSLA) the bold, nimble answer to the auto industry's cautious culture. Now the electric car maker's top executive has extended his help to another industrial giant: Boeing. In a Jan. 26 message on Twitter, Musk said he was in talks with the chief engineer of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner plane, which regulators have grounded indefinitely after a string of malfunctions ranging from fuel leaks to battery meltdowns.
 
Jan. 28, 2013
Probe of 787 Battery Maker Ends With No Findings - WSJ
TOKYO—Japanese regulators said Monday they have concluded one major arm of their investigation into the battery problems that grounded Boeing Co.'s BA -0.94% flagship Dreamliner jet without finding any clues about what went wrong, as the push to troubleshoot the high-tech plane approaches its second week. 

Japan Eased Safety Standards Ahead of Boeing 787 Rollout - Reuters 
Japan's government stepped in to give Boeing Co.'s now-grounded 787 Dreamliner and its made-in-Japan technology a boost in 2008 by easing safety regulations, fast-tracking the rollout of the groundbreaking jet for Japan's biggest airlines, according to records and participants in the process.

Jan. 27, 2013
Air Safety Group Urged Tougher Battery Tests - WSJ
 Shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration issued safety rules in 2007 for using lithium-ion batteries on Boeing Co.'s BA -0.91% 787 Dreamliner jets, an industry standards-setting group called for stricter testing to prevent battery fires on aircraft.

Jan. 26, 2013
Burnt Circuit Boards Snag Boeing 787 Probe - Japan Today
TOKYO — A device seen as key to explaining why a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner jet made an emergency landing in Japan last week is burnt and unlikely to provide safety inspectors with data they need, said a person with knowledge of the ongoing investigation.

The Boeing 787: The Truth Finally Hits the Fan - Forbes
Congratulations to James B. Stewart on a superb New York Times article yesterday on Boeing’s 787 crisis. As he has pointed out, fully  35 percent of the manufactured content of the 787,  the troubled, if superbly advanced, new Boeing jetliner, is being sourced from  Japan. This reflects a highly organized, subsidy-drenched effort by the Japanese industrial system to succeed the United States as the world leader in aerospace. All in all, 70 percent of the 787 is being manufactured outside the United States, up from less than 2 percent for the 747 in the late 1960s.

Jan. 25, 2013
 VIDEO: The Two CEOs Behind the Boeing Dreamliner
Two U.S. CEO's have a lot riding on the Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the first plane grounded by U.S. regulators since 1979. WSJ's Jon Ostrower tells us why Boeing CEo Jim McNerney and Ford CEO Alan Mulally have the most at stake.

Japan’s Role in Making Batteries for Boeing - NYT
As the search for the cause of smoldering batteries in Boeing’s grounded 787 Dreamliner continues, investigators and Congressional oversight committees may want to look into a related and potentially sensitive issue: how was the Japanese company GS Yuasa chosen to manufacture the innovative but now suspect lithium-ion batteries on the 787?

Jan. 23, 2013
Japan: No Evidence Boeing Dreamliner Battery Was Overcharged - WSJ
Japanese aviation officials said flight data from a Boeing Co. BA -0.94% 787 Dreamliner jet that made an emergency landing last week revealed no evidence that its battery was overcharged, suggesting probes of the plane's electrical system by Tokyo and Washington are dovetailing. 

Boeing’s Battery Problems Cast Doubt on Appraisal of New Technologies - NYT
In December 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration allowed Airbus, the European plane maker, to use 14-ounce lithium-ion batteries to provide standby power for the emergency lighting system of its new A380 jumbo jet. Ten months later, the agency allowed Boeing to use the same volatile type of battery on its new 787 plane. But in Boeing’s case, the batteries weighed 63 pounds each, were to be used in critical flight systems as well as to provide backup power, and would be charged and discharged much more often.

Jan. 16, 2013
F.A.A. Grounds U.S.-Operated Boeing 787s - NYT
The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it was grounding all Boeing 787s operated by United States carriers until it can determine what caused a new type of battery to catch fire on two planes in nine days.

 

 



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