787 questions and answers

I know a lot of you have questions about the status of the 787 as we continue to work with our customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. Our team has answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. We’ll continue to update you here as things develop.

Q: What actions are you taking to ensure the safety of the 787?

A: There is no higher priority than the safety of passengers and crew members flying onboard our airplanes. Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.

Q: What is an airworthiness directive?

A: Airworthiness Directives (ADs) are rules issued by the FAA to mandate actions such as inspections, repairs, data collection, and other operational changes.

Q: How long will 787s be grounded?

A: According to the FAA’s recent announcement, operations can resume once airlines have demonstrated the batteries are safe. Boeing is working with the FAA to define that process and timeline.

Q: What are you doing to help your customers?

A: We are in ongoing conversations with our customers - those who operate the airplane as well as those who have not yet received their first 787 - to ensure they understand the progress being made to define the plan to return to flight. Once that plan is defined we will assist in completing the actions required.

Q: What is the issue with the batteries?

A: We are supporting the investigations that will determine the cause of the recent incidents involving 787 batteries. Until those investigations conclude, we can’t speculate on what the results might be.

Q: What protections do you apply for the lithium ion batteries on the 787?

A: There are multiple backups to ensure the system is safe. These include protections against over-charging and over-discharging.

Q: Why didn’t this battery issue show up in the flight test?

A. We are supporting the investigations that will determine the cause of the recent incidents involving 787 batteries. Until those investigations conclude, we can’t speculate on what the results might be.

Q: The 787 uses electric motors and electric controls in places where earlier designs used mechanical linkages and hydraulic systems, does this have anything to do with batteries?

A: No. All modern jetliners have batteries. The 787’s more-electric architecture has very little to do with batteries. The key innovation that enables the improved efficiency is the generation of more electrical power and the elimination of the high-pressure bleed air (pneumatic) system. The functions that were formerly powered pneumatically are now powered electrically

Comments (9)

Chris Derosier (fergus falls Minnesota usa):

This was the most open ended Q and A I have ever read, would the pressure differential between 32,000 ft and see level have any thing to do with the battery?

Jerry Skovie (Naperville, iL. USA):

Why can't nickel-cadmium batteries be substituted to replace the troublesome batteries?

David (Seattle):

While I do look forward to flying on the 787, I also get the feeling that maybe we have a bit of the "head in the sand" mentality that we saw during the 737 rudder issues. Clearly something is not working the way intended and something is getting "around" the plane's design. It is conceivable that bad batteries will exist, it is conceivable that issues will occur that are not identified during testing. What I do not understand is why Boeing is unwilling to own up that something has happened that was not expected and that this could (and likely is) a flaw in the design, if from no other perspective than because the engineering permitted it to occur. What is not known is to what extent this could occur again and I think if asked, nobody in the public would want to fly on a plane that has a known problem with an unknown range of possible outcomes. All aircraft have known problems, but the difference is that the associated outcomes are also known. Not so here. Please accept this is a problem and fix it. Once that is done, you probably have the best ever commercial plane that even beats out the 777 and 747.

Ken (Irvine, CA):

What made Boeing think that it was a good idea to use Lithium Cobalt Dioxide based batteries when even the automotive industry went out of it's way to find a safer chemistry?

Thomas Horstmann, Jr. (Portland, Oregon):

I am curious given there are only a handful of batteries in the Dreamliner, why you can't simply swap them out for traditional and well tested batteries, like the ones in the 777 and 747-I?

Donald (Oakland, CA):

If I were flying I'd be more concerned about the aluminum wiring. Is that used in other planes? It used to be used in homes and other buildings. It no longer is and the reason is that over time the connections loosened, which resulted in arcing and fires. Except for high voltage transmission and some components in switchgear, it is not used for general wiring anywhere, anymore.

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

Hopefully the 787 will be up in the sky very soon along with the confidence of the airlines who operate them and the and the passengers who fly in them. For now many passengers may be skeptical of flying on the Dreamliner and they need to be reassured by Boeing and the airlines that fly the 787.

David S (New Orleans):

I would get on a 787 witout any concern whatsoever. I saw the United 787 diversion to MSY as we taxied to the terminal. It's definitely an eye catcher

fthoma (palm bay, fl, 32907):

Flightglobal today quotes Elon Musk "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." It then goes on in detail on the subject of Musk's opinion.

Would adapting a new design be a major issue?

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