Getting the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
airborne should be US national priority next week. Its eight days since the
Dreamliner was grounded by the US-FAA (see timeline here).
Japan, India and European air safety regulators have similarly grounded the
aircraft and there is no timetable to put it back
up, as of yesterday. And Poland may even ask for compensation. Here is why
getting the Boeing 787 Dreamliner airborne is so important:
- Safety is important:
but regulators are risk averse. Flight Safety Regulators in every
democratic country are risk averse by definition. Their worst nightmare is
that of not taking action and then being blamed, if a plane actually
catches fire due to the batteries . Understandably the "safety"
is about bureaucratic careers so much so that no Prime Minister
would like to over-rule its own flight safety regulator, unless say
President Obama personally called to assure safety.
- Batteries overheat:
This blog claims no expertise on lithium ion battery technology but these
seem to be bigger versions of the laptop computer battery. And there have been
numerous battery recalls on laptops and
you would have noted that it only takes a few reports before mass recalls
- Boeing is the largest US Exporter: Boeing is the largest US Exporter.
And the Dreamliner on air is key to that role. Along with US exports
come US jobs.
- Global aviation competition is intense: Aviation competition is intense globally and the
French Airbus has got a foothold in the Japanese market and is
also fairly prominent in other markets. Delays in resolving the battery
problem will only weaken the Boeing brand and its competitive position in
Currently, Boeing seems to be naturally
on the defensive and reports indicate all kinds of problems like tight funding
in the development, fragmented supply chains etc. But this is not the time to
get into diagnosing the history and faults of Boeing to come up with this great
American innovation ( see earlier Dreamliner post from 2007 ).
Instead,it is absolutely critical to manage
the safety problem of the batteries and not let imagination run wild that
planes will catch fire in mid-air after reasonable fixes are in place. Luckily United Airlines CEO Jeff Simisek
has called the Dreamliner "terrific" and some other Boeing customers
have also stepped up with their vote of confidence.
Let's hope that we see the
Dreamliner airborne again very soon. Contact StratoServe.