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Old 01-19-2013, 09:39 AM   #21
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I just read in the WSJ that there are only 2 Lion batteries on the 787 weighing a total of 112 lbs vs about 170lbs for the older Nicads. Seems like a lot of risk/expense to save just 60lbs or so, equal to one carry on!! Was previously under the wrong impression that batteries and amp-hrs were much more substantial component. To the uninformed mind this seems like a "no brainer"!!!
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:08 PM   #22
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To the uninformed mind this seems like a "no brainer"!!!
When you calculate the cost of lifting and moving that extra 60 pounds over the lifespan of the aircraft you will find it amounts to a very substantial amount of cash.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:20 PM   #23
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I agree in principle but in practice the cost of what they are going through in terms of lost air time and bad publicity would suggest that staying with proven technology might have been the best bet. It does not appear that Lions are ready for prime time in life/death applications.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:35 PM   #24
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It's all about the weight. The weight of an LRU is a huge factor in whether or not it buys it's way onto an airplane.

There are a very guarded set of numbers out there that are the cost per pound per hour of revenue flight, by model. They are in the double digits across the board.

There are two very remarkable things you can do for a customer:

Make their plane more efficient and/or Make their plane lighter.

60 pounds is hundreds of millions of dollars over the service life of an aircraft

Also; Every extra pound lifted for free in revenue flight, is one you can't charge for elsewhere (freight).

Even the cost of paint weight is figured into our designs.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:52 PM   #25
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Sixty pounds of battery is sixty pounds less revenue cargo you can carry. Don't think that the belly of a commercial jet is loaded up with luggage. Even a 737 has room for a lot of revenue freight on a typical flight. Luggage doesn't take up much space.

On larger planes like 777s, 787s, A330s etc, I wouldn't be surprised if the revenue freight in the holds makes more money for the airline than the passengers up above. Emirates and British Airways, to name two we have worked with on projects, operate massive-- and very profitable-- worldwide cargo operations based on their passenger fleets.

A typical Emirates 777 will have perhaps two containers of luggage down below. Everything else is containerized or palletized revenue freight. We filmed one 777 passenger flight turnaround in Dubai in which most of the hold of the plane was filled with palletized Ferraris.

Emirates built such a successful cargo operation using their passenger fleet that they have begun adding 777 freighters.

As SomeSailor said, a sixty pound weight savings that becomes a sixty pound payload increase on every flight adds up to a huge income boost for the operator over the years they have the plane.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:06 PM   #26
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Most people complain about having to pay $35 for an additional bag, but imagine how many overnight parcels they can haul for any of the freight companies. They are all chock full of freight whenever possible. The real money isn't isn't in passenger revenue.

The real benefit of lithium batteries comes in when you start talking about their ability to produce huge amounts of current on short order.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:57 PM   #27
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Thread hijack alert.

Regarding aircraft weight issues, would it not be logical to price tickets on a passenger weight scale.

How about allowing the passenger a given weight allowance that includes themselves and their luggage, with an excess paid on top if they exceed that weight. Might be a little non PC though.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:33 AM   #28
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Thread hijack alert.

Regarding aircraft weight issues, would it not be logical to price tickets on a passenger weight scale.

How about allowing the passenger a given weight allowance that includes themselves and their luggage, with an excess paid on top if they exceed that weight. Might be a little non PC though.
It would be a nightmare logistically. We are still trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to board an aircraft(UAL is changing their procedure yet again). We've been "boarding aircraft" for almost a century...and still fine tuning!!!!!!!

Also, on every single flight plan operated by Legacy Continental(which will be the surviving flight plan software), there is a line that gives you the figure for how much fuel is burned per 1000lbs of weight. On a full 767-400 it is close to 200lbs of fuel for each 1000lbs. I think it was usually around 190lbs. On a 737 it is in the low 100s....somewhere around 110-120lbs of fuel per 1000lbs. So your 60lb bag may cost almost 2 gallons of fuel per hour.

Just FYI...a carry on bag weighs NOTHING...NADA....0lbs. It is included in the weight of the passenger which I think now is 190lbs(it differs by 5lbs from summer to winter). Every checked bag is 25lbs and if it is a duffle bag it is 50lbs. So who really knows what an airplane weighs when it takes off????

And the cargo hold of every single one of our aircraft is loaded with cargo totally unrelated to the passengers flying. We carry US Mail...live chickens...roses(the 2nd most prolific legal export out of Colombia)...car parts...airplane parts...you name it. If it is a widebody, there are pallets upon pallets of cargo aboard. There are certain routes that are subsidized by cargo...IOW, there may not be many humans on board but we are still making money. We make BIG money on cargo. It is indiscriminate....and it has to go. Whereas humans may not go if the price is too much....the cargo has to go!!!
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:08 AM   #29
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Regarding aircraft weight issues, would it not be logical to price tickets on a passenger weight scale.
We do that now in many ways now. Every bag is weighed as it's checked and as far as passengers, men are calc'd at an average 200 pounds and women’s at 179. Winter weight is calculated heavier (but fuel is denser so it offsets a bit). Stow bin weights are built in to max zero fuel weight calculation and are covered under Part 121. (not counted against cargo weight)

You'd be amazed at the distance we would go to save weight. There aren't many things that mean more to a customer. Even paint weight is designed in on each aircraft. There are 555 pounds of paint on a 747-400.

Many arguments get started about NOT painting an airplane, but the efficiencies gained by reducing the weight do not offset the cosmetic upkeep cost associated with a polished airplane. That's why not many polish anymore.
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:23 PM   #30
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During the past few days I've read in USA Today, Financial TImes, WSJ and the Seattle papers and heard aircraft experts commenting on:
  • 3 large (747s) cargo planes have crashed in the past 5 years and burned due to the Li battery cargo
  • FAA comments are very dubious about a quick fix for the Li battery systems on the 787 with even test flights of the 787 curtailed
  • FAA and aircraft design consultants are murmuring about removing the Li batteries in their entirety and replacing with "older" FAA approved units.
  • The Li battery charger company, Thales, from France is saying Boeing did the design of the battery/charger/output systems with the suppliers not on the hook for the cost of the fix
  • The battery supplier appears to be the largest and longest lived in the Li business supplying batteries to NASA for Space Station applications
Unless this issue is dealt with effectively and quickly Boeing's customers do not have the balance sheet strength to weather the storm. The revenue gain/loss of a few hundred pounds of batteries per plane is quickly evaporating.
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Old 01-20-2013, 01:45 PM   #31
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3 large (747s) cargo planes have crashed in the past 5 years and burned due to the Li battery cargo
Much more troubling than the current 787 dilemma in my opinion.

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FAA comments are very dubious about a quick fix for the Li battery systems on the 787 with even test flights of the 787 curtailed
That's common on all safety related AD's that are issued. Boeing will be flying B1 flights and ferry flights again real soon.


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FAA and aircraft design consultants are murmuring about removing the Li batteries in their entirety and replacing with "older" FAA approved units.
That genie is out of the bottle I'm afraid. All future designs (A350, 737Max, 777X) will be making use of lithium batteries. They're not inherently unsafe, they just have specific design criteria that'll come under increased scrutiny.

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The Li battery charger company, Thales, from France is saying Boeing did the design of the battery/charger/output systems with the suppliers not on the hook for the cost of the fix
Ah... not so fast. Thales is working under an SCD that pretty clearly calls out the spec by which the system operates. Unless the SCD was flawed (and I doubt that), then the design is a 100% Thales product. Thales is a key supplier to Boeing (I work with them every day) and I'm sure they're working very closely to identify what may have caused the scenario we're seeing.

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The battery supplier appears to be the largest and longest lived in the Li business supplying batteries to NASA for Space Station applications
... in a very new industry. Root cause will determine what (if any) part quality may have played in this. I personally think the batteries themselves and/or the charge performance (not the technology) will be the root of this. The good news is everyone got down without injury and we'll be a safer flying public in the long run. It's all part of innovation. These sort of things happen.

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Unless this issue is dealt with effectively and quickly Boeing's customers do not have the balance sheet strength to weather the storm. The revenue gain/loss of a few hundred pounds of batteries per plane is quickly evaporating.
I don't think this is about weight. You're talking a whole new design, new cert basis, cert plans and qualifications. It would take many months to certify a replacement solution using an entirely different battery technology. Not to mention the physical properties of each is different.

And don't forget... NiMH batteries have suffered from catastrophic thermal runaway for years. You won't fix this by changing batteries out.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:24 PM   #32
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Somesailor

I've no quibble with what you have said - good stuff. But, the financial consequences of this -pick one- (minor event, happening, normal teething problems, concern or fiasco) on the carriers is not inconsequential and still unfolding.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:39 PM   #33
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I agree. It's certainly not good news for anyone, but my point is it's not simply about making a decision to add a heavier battery system. That's just not possible (in any immediate future).

I think a good thing that will come of this is the attention it will bring to cargo inerting and the way we treat batteries as a whole on board aircraft. This could have been much worse and we've had some close calls (and some suspected losses) due to lithium batteries in the past.

Wait until we start seeing more of them in hybrid vehicle accidents on local highways.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:50 PM   #34
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Due to an on-board fire on an A320 in China last year, China has introduced very strict regulations governing lithium batteries on aircraft. It has even effected us because the batteries that power our cameras, lights, and monitors are all lithium now, and pretty good sized ones to boot.

I think SomeSailor summed up the situation very well. The technology is not going to be going backwards. It's simply going to get better going forwards. Incidents like the situation with the 787, while costly and inconvenient, are how new technologies become tried and true old technologies.

Listen to the horror stories about the problems with the first 707s and 747s, for example, and they make the current battery situation seem almost inconsequential.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:25 AM   #36
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RTF--- The first half of your guess is correct. I've been told by our flightline guys that the IFE system on a plane like the 777 many times surpasses in complexity any other system on the plane..
Maybe that explains why they sometimes don`t work at all, or have "issues".
But I still like the 777.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:17 AM   #37
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Listen to the horror stories about the problems with the first 707s and 747s, for example, and they make the current battery situation seem almost inconsequential.
Many years ago when natural gas lights were introduced to the public, some people were actually "blowing them out" at night. They finally got everything settled down (education) and life was good.

Yes, the Dreamliner has some problems but in the end it will be considered as one of the greatest planes ever built.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:26 AM   #38
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Fine, but would you choose to fly on one for the next several months????
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:57 AM   #39
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60 lbs, wow!

Many drivers will add a thousand+ pounds of fuel when flying into rotten weather with expected airborne holds "for the wife and kiddies".

Looks like Perfection got in the ray of Reality.

What is the coat of grounding the fleet , perhaps for months?
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:54 AM   #40
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60 lbs, wow!

Many drivers will add a thousand+ pounds of fuel when flying into rotten weather with expected airborne holds "for the wife and kiddies".
That's a one-time one-leg CYA choice, it is not a permanent part of the empty weight that the airplane lives with all its life, good weather or bad.

That is reality.
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