Boeing have managed to rescue one of its grounded 787’s today, forming flight Boeing 382 from Fort Worth Meacham International airport to Paine Field in Everett, Washington according to Flight Aware
A bit of digging indicates that this plane was stuck at a paint shop at For Worth Meacham and was due to be ferried back to Boeing – just before the grounding of the class took place.
The flight was allowed on the following conditions of the Federal Aviation Administration:
FAA spokeswoman Brie Sachse said the special flight Thursday must adhere to certain conditions:
- Before flight, the crew must perform inspections to verify that the batteries and cables show no signs of damage
- The pre-flight checklist must include a mandatory check for specific status messages that could indicate possible battery problems
- The plane must fly directly from Fort Worth to Everett
- While airborne, the crew must continuously monitor the flight computer for battery related messages and land immediately if one occurs
The plane was granted a one-time exception, and flew back to Paine Field, Everett (where the Boeing factory is), and the grounding of the 787 fleet resumed.
The commercial fleet of Boeing 787’s remains grounded, due to the lithium-ion battery packs. According to the National Safety Transportation Board, an examination of the battery that caused a fire aboard a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston showed that one of the eight Li-Ion cells showed multiple signs of short circuiting, leading to a thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells.
What caused the short-circuiting of the battery has yet to be discovered.
In addition, the battery incident on-board an ANA 787 that had to make an emergency landing also showed signs thermal runaway too.
Boeing’s certification tests put the chances of an issue form a 787 battery pack to be at at one in every 10 million flight hours – however, the 787 type has accumulated less than 100,00 flight hours with two such incidents on the register. As such, there are now questions over how Boeing certified the batteries for, and the assumption made about the chances of failure need to be reconsidered.
The NTSB hops to produce an interim factual report – but not a final report – within 30 days.
It’s probably not the news Boeing wants to hear, but apart from this ferry flight, and the test flights to follow, I have a nasty feeling grounding of the 787 fleet will be with us for some time to come yet….