Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Update Feb 21, 2013.

The Dreamliner uses four times the electricity of a traditional airliner.  Heating the wings and other tasks current airliners do with heat from the engines are done with electricty on the Dreamliner. This may turn out to be a fundamentally bad decision. Is it too early to declare the Dreamliner is a dream for Airbus?

The Dreamliner nightmare continues. New planes are complicated machines and ironing out the kinks is part of the normal practise. Has there ever been a new model that was launched within target? Has there ever been a new model that did not need post production tweaks? However what is happening with the grounded 787 is a fundamental engineering failure.  Boeing decided to place a greater emphasis on generating and storing electricity than using jet engine heat for various tasks. The key to this was large lightweight lithium ion batteries.  Overheating is a characteristic of these batteries.  Eldon Musk the creator of the Tesla automobile faced this engineering problem as well. He claims Boeing has essentially designed a deathtrap. Instead of distributing the power into thousands of small cells that can fail without triggering a meltdown in the neighbour, Boeing went with the traditional design of 8 large cells.  One cell overheats and due to the domino effect the whole battery flames out. Eldon has offered to help Boeing so far they remain welded to failure.  The very real reason is that a major change in the engineering of the planes electrical systems could leave the plane grounded for a year or more. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out, and the suits at Boeing must have their hair on fire now that Eldon Musk has pointed out that the emperor has no clothes.
This is a good illustration of the fact that business is not infallible. Replacing public institutions with private ones is in fact a guarantee that when something blows up, no one will be held to account.

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