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NTSB investigating whistleblower claims on 787

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posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:03 PM
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I just got done reading an article on Aviation Week about the grounding of the 787 possibly being lengthy. Both aircraft that had battery problems (ANA and JAL), had different batteries fail (forward on ANA, aft on JAL). One thing that jumped out at me was that both batteries have a 235v charger system built by Securaplane in Arizona. Securaplane calls itself a "pioneer" in lithium ion technology on commercial aircraft.

Now the NTSB is talking to Michael Leon, one of several whistleblowers to come forward with concerns about the charging systems built by Securaplane. He claims he was fired for raising his concerns that Securaplane was rushing chargers into production and that they could malfunction and cause fires. Securaplane had a three-story administration building burn to the ground in 2006, after an explosion and fire. Boeing says an investigation showed the cause was an improper test setup, not a battery problem.

Leon says that he raised concerns about the battery two weeks before the battery exploded in November 2006. He says he tried using Halon on it, but parts of the battery kept reigniting. He claims that they shipped chargers that could short circuit, to keep from losing the contract from Thales. The FAA investigated his claims, and said the parts in question were never installed on an aircraft.


The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is looking at issues raised by more than one whistleblower as it investigates battery failures that have grounded the global fleet of 50 Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners for a week.

Michael Leon, one of the whistleblowers, said he spoke with an NTSB investigator this week and gave him extensive materials about his claim that he was fired around six years ago for raising safety concerns about Securaplane Technologies Inc., an Arizona company that makes chargers for the highly flammable lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the probe.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday and in earlier court papers, Leon said Securaplane was rushing to ship chargers that by his assessment did not conform to specifications and could have malfunctioned.

A federal administrative judge later dismissed Leon’s complaints after concluding he was fired for repeated misconduct, according to court documents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concluded that the pieces of equipment he complained about were never installed in the aircraft, as they were prototypes.

www.aviationweek.com.../article-xml/awx_01_24_2013_p0-540670.xml




posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:16 PM
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Thanks for the heads up, OP..



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:49 PM
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Boeing might have to eat their words, as it seems so far that the NTSB in concentrating more on the batteries rather than the other components,

abcnews.go.com...



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:56 PM
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reply to post by smurfy
 


Both batteries (made by GS Yuasa in Japan) appeared to have suffered charging related events. The JAL battery suffered a short and thermal runaway, and the ANA battery appears to have suffered an overcharging event. They're looking at the batteries right now, because they aren't sure if it was a battery problem (it was made improperly, or had a defect) or if it's a system problem. So they'll concentrate on the battery until they determine if it was ok or not before the events.



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 01:56 PM
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Hi, plane fans.

I have this question:

Do you think that the FAA and associates are more "TRUSTable" than the FDA ? B-)

Would it be a good idea to check ""where"" do come from many who work there ??

Blue skies.



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 02:06 PM
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reply to post by C-JEAN
 


I KNOW the FAA has some people that are in bed with the airlines. But when it comes to regulating the production of aircraft, it's a little harder to sneak things by, as the oversight by supervisors and the government is much tighter. They may make some mistakes occasionally, but this is only the second time I'm aware of that they have had to ground an entire aircraft type. The first was the DC-10 after American 191, when an engine separated on take off out of Chicago O'Hare, causing the flight to crash into a trailer park. It turned out to be a maintenance issue related to an engine change, but they grounded the entire DC-10 fleet until they figured it out.

Airlines have always had FAA inspectors tell them they were coming for a "surprise" inspection, or allow them to fly planes when they shouldn't be. But when it happens, the agents supervisor will ground all aircraft impacted, and usually discipline and/or reassign said inspector. A lot of times to somewhere they don't interact with the airlines.



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 02:53 PM
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All regulatory agencies are staffed with a lot of people ex-airline and ex-military aviation.

That is where they get their expertise and training - the alternatives are to have people who have no formal training or expertise, or to budget to train people to the desired level from ab initio. How much are you prepared to pay extra on your airline ticket for that?

I have worked in an aviation regulatory agency (not the FAA) - there were 20,000 hour 747 captains, Ag pilots who had owned their own multi-aircraft companies and had 30,000 hours most of them at



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 05:43 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by smurfy
 


Both batteries (made by GS Yuasa in Japan) appeared to have suffered charging related events. The JAL battery suffered a short and thermal runaway, and the ANA battery appears to have suffered an overcharging event. They're looking at the batteries right now, because they aren't sure if it was a battery problem (it was made improperly, or had a defect) or if it's a system problem. So they'll concentrate on the battery until they determine if it was ok or not before the events.


But what about the factory explosion when bench testing, wasn't that ultimately the battery overheating too for whatever reason, whether the charger/alternator or not, or perhaps the regulator. the thing is, in the article I linked to, which has the details you mentioned, it also mentions a possible overcharging problem, but when that happens, it usually blows the alternator first.



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 07:03 PM
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reply to post by smurfy
 


They said that it was caused by the battery being connected to the charger wrong. Personally I suspect that there's a problem with the charger not shutting off when it's supposed to, causing the overcharging problems.



posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 07:11 PM
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Originally posted by Aloysius the Gaul
The paranoid conspiracy concept that they were "in the pocket" of the local very large major airline is not supportable - however there is certainly evidence of them being ordinary people - trusting too much in the word of technical and operations experts who have much more resource than the regulatory authority has, and not being sufficiently "on the ball" in some cases.


How is it a "paranoid conspiracy" when it's been documented that FAA inspectors have warned airlines days before "surprise" inspections? Or that they failed to take action that later led to either a crash, or an in flight incident? There are sworn depositions from airline employees stating that the airline had a warehouse off site, and when the FAA inspector warned them they were coming, the airline would move unapproved parts out of their supply area, into the warehouse. After the inspectors left, they moved them back and started using them again.


“Our investigation uncovered a pattern of regulatory abuse,” said Oberstar when announcing the hearing. “What is so disturbing is that many FAA inspectors have given up reporting failures by the carriers because there is such a cozy relationship between FAA management and airline management.”

www.msnbc.msn.com...


A newly issued government report on the Federal Aviation Administration's inspections of airport security says that in some cases FAA agents overstated how well airports performed and made efforts to help airlines do well on the inspections.

articles.baltimoresun.com...


Some members of Congress, safety watchdogs, and whistle-blowers have long complained of a revolving-door culture that fostered coziness between the FAA and major U.S. airlines.

The issue erupted publicly last year when a whistle-blower case over maintenance lapses at Southwest Airlines Co led to a congressional investigation and harsh criticism of FAA oversight.

usatoday30.usatoday.com...

It's well documented that everyone but the FAA thinks and sees that the FAA is way too close to the airlines, and does everything they can to help the airlines, and not the flying public, which they're supposed to do.



posted on Jan, 29 2013 @ 06:32 AM
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Hi All, hello Zaph, long time no speak.

I have to agree with much of what Aloysius said, in particular in terms of regulators having the wool pulled over their eyes although I respectfully disagree that coverups due to corruption dont generally happen. I am aware of several coverups in my own country and company that have occurred, even in very recent times. I absolutely %150 agree on the problem of bureaucrats covering their asses by not acting decisively, THAT is probably the single biggest roadblock to reform and transparent governance.

Now as for the 787 battery issue, I have one thing to say to Boeing and any other airframe manufacturers thinking of using them. "ARE YOU F**KING NUTS??", Li-on batteries like being either A): constantly charged with little discharge (or for that matter overcharging), that is EXACTLY what happens to them on an airliner as standard practice whenever on the ground. "Duh" what use is a half flat emergency battery bus system if you dont keep it constantly charged? And B): Li-ons dont like sudden large discharges. You know as in an emergency when you actually need it to operate reliably without adding to your problems.

Why the hell else do you think that airlines ban you from shipping Li-on batteries in the cargo holds?

"Dumb dee dumb, dumb ,dumb, dumb......"

LEE.



posted on Jan, 29 2013 @ 07:14 PM
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The 787 Dreamliner?...More like 787 Nightmareliner!



posted on Jan, 29 2013 @ 07:28 PM
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reply to post by ProfessorAlfB
 


It's not the first to have major problems, and it won't be the last. It's still ahead of the curve on fuel savings, and seat cost per mile, over what Boeing promised. Even if they end up changing the batteries, it'll still save more fuel than anything else out there.



posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 04:22 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58

Originally posted by Aloysius the Gaul
The paranoid conspiracy concept that they were "in the pocket" of the local very large major airline is not supportable - however there is certainly evidence of them being ordinary people - trusting too much in the word of technical and operations experts who have much more resource than the regulatory authority has, and not being sufficiently "on the ball" in some cases.


How is it a "paranoid conspiracy" when it's been documented that FAA inspectors have warned airlines days before "surprise" inspections? Or that they failed to take action that later led to either a crash, or an in flight incident? There are sworn depositions from airline employees stating that the airline had a warehouse off site, and when the FAA inspector warned them they were coming, the airline would move unapproved parts out of their supply area, into the warehouse. After the inspectors left, they moved them back and started using them again.


That is a conspiracy on the part of the airline, not the FAA inspectors.

Using unapproved (bogus) parts is a crime - people do crimes all the time. To expect otherwise is naive.



“Our investigation uncovered a pattern of regulatory abuse,” said Oberstar when announcing the hearing. “What is so disturbing is that many FAA inspectors have given up reporting failures by the carriers because there is such a cozy relationship between FAA management and airline management.”

www.msnbc.msn.com...


A newly issued government report on the Federal Aviation Administration's inspections of airport security says that in some cases FAA agents overstated how well airports performed and made efforts to help airlines do well on the inspections.

articles.baltimoresun.com...


Some members of Congress, safety watchdogs, and whistle-blowers have long complained of a revolving-door culture that fostered coziness between the FAA and major U.S. airlines.

The issue erupted publicly last year when a whistle-blower case over maintenance lapses at Southwest Airlines Co led to a congressional investigation and harsh criticism of FAA oversight.

usatoday30.usatoday.com...

It's well documented that everyone but the FAA thinks and sees that the FAA is way too close to the airlines, and does everything they can to help the airlines, and not the flying public, which they're supposed to do.


Indeed - and while every one of these is deplorable they are pretty well known - see wiki article on "regulatory capture"

The small regulatory agency I have worked for had the same "problem" - overworked or bored inspectors/auditors sometimes not doing their job properly, passing "tips" to their mates in industry about various things serious and not so serious, etc.

It is human nature - the aviation industry calls it "human factors" - most human factor studies look at the cockpit, some at maintenance, but the field applies to the regulator - and indeed to all human behavior - just as much.

Labeling it all a conspiracy IS being paranoid - at worst it is many small individual "conspiracies" that may reach the level of being crimes, but often are not - and to counter them you need to understand human behavior and set tasks, rewards, incentives, etc that are appropriate.

That is ideal - it will never happen of course, and as long as humans remain "in the loop" ther are going to be human failures.

The best systems are tolerant of human failure (ie when it happens it does not cause the system to crash) and are on high alert to detect them - that is the best you get - perfection is not an option.
edit on 30-1-2013 by Aloysius the Gaul because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 05:46 AM
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reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


I don't really remember saying it was a conspiracy though. I quoted you where you said it was a paranoid conspiracy, but it's a proven fact that the FAA and the airlines are way too close to each other, and that the FAA inspectors allow the airlines to get away with anything.

Yes, I know that airlines will used unapproved parts, and it's a crime. The point being made was that the FAA would tell the airline "Hey, we'll be there on Monday for a surprise inspection" the week before. The airline would then move the parts, make sure all the parts in the supply chain were legal, and after the inspection go back to what they were doing before, and get away with it. All because some inspector thinks that the airline supervisor was a "good guy" and didn't want him to lose his job, or he didn't want to lose his cushy job with that particular airline.

There is even evidence of an FAA inspector at Colgan Air lying on Capitol Hill during testimony about a pilot for Colgan that filed a complaint about a Captain changing the weight and balance so they could take off. The pilot that complained suddenly became a "trouble maker" and a "bad pilot". Yes, these are individual actions, but it doesn't prove that I'm wrong about the inspectors being in bed with the airlines. The FAA management even tries to keep the airlines happy and lets them get away with things they shouldn't.

I'm not expecting perfection from the system. I just expect these inspectors to do their damn job, and to make sure the plane I'm getting on is safe to fly on, and in some cases they're not doing even that much.
edit on 1/30/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 05:39 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


I'm not expecting perfection from the system. I just expect these inspectors to do their damn job, and to make sure the plane I'm getting on is safe to fly on,


Isn't that perfection?

In fact the inspectors do not make air travel safe - tehy do not inspect every aspect of every plane before every flight nor do they oversee every pilot.

It is the airlines themselves that make air travel safe (or otherwise) - the best you get from inspectors is an indication that the airline is generaly doing things right.



....and in some cases they're not doing even that much.


Indeed - welcome to reality.

edit on 30-1-2013 by Aloysius the Gaul because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 30 2013 @ 05:58 PM
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reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


No, that's not perfection. When you have 117 aircraft that fly a total of almost 1500 flights, having missed critical inspections, that's not even TRYING to do your damn job. I don't care if they miss minor inspections, but when you have an aircraft that has had known rudder control problems that has caused at least two crashes, and several near misses, what the hell are you doing allowing 70 of them to fly without having critical inspections done? Or allowing the others out of that 117 group fly without being inspected for known cracking issues? It sure as hell isn't your job.

I'm WELL aware of the "reality" of the airline industry. That's why I didn't bother to go to work for them, even though I wanted to. I saw what it was like when I worked at the airport for many years, dealing with the airlines. We couldn't even get them to pay $3000 a year for a maintenance contract that would have allowed us to maintain necessary equipment. They were so busy playing pass the buck it wasn't funny.

I know that the airlines keep us safe, or not, but the inspectors are supposed to ensure that necessary inspections are carried out, and that the airlines are at least pretending to do what they are supposed to.
edit on 1/30/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)






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