Monday, May 27, 2013
Posted by K at 04:54
Saturday, May 11, 2013
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PETITION TO US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT), FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) AND NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD (NTSB) RE SAFETY OF BOEING 787 BATTERIES OF FLYERSRIGHTS.ORG & AVIATION CONSUMER ACTION PROJECT
BY PAUL S. HUDSON, PRESIDENT OF FLYERSRIGHTS.ORG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AVIATION CONSUMER ACTION PROJECT, MEMBER OF FAA AVIATION RULEMAKING ADVISORY COMMITTEE
May 8, 2013
In January 2013, all Boeing 787 airliners were grounded due to overheating leading to fires and subsequent failure of lithium ion batteries used on this aircraft. 1
On January 18th DOT Secretary Ray LaHood stated, “Those planes won’t fly until we’re 1,000% sure they are safe to fly.”
On April 19th, while the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was still investigating the Boeing 787 battery fires, the FAA approved a Boeing proposed 787 battery fix, but indicated it was reviewing the three (3) hour distance from the nearest landing site that this aircraft is approved for. 2
FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger organization calls on DOT Secretary LaHood and the FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to require Boeing 787 be limited to no more that two hour(s) (ETOPS 120) from the nearest emergency landing site, unless its lithium ion batteries are replaced with a failsafe electrical power system proven to meet current FAA safety standards or until this aircraft has proven itself with at least 24 months of trouble free service. This is the standard used by the Joint Aviation Authorities in the 1990s to even consider allowing twin engine aircraft to be certified to fly up 3 hours from the nearest airport. 3
Lithium ion batteries have a long history of overheating, catching fire, exploding, and spewing molten metal. The two batteries used on the Boeing are large, over 60 lbs. Should they overheat and catch fire they could easily bring down the airliner, especially if it was not within easy reach of an airport available for an emergency landing. Moreover, industry wide certification standards for lithium ion batteries that are permanently installed do not currently exist. See Exhibit 1.
According to independent experts, the proposed Boeing battery fix that has received preliminary approval by the FAA is wholly inadequate to ensure the safety of the traveling public.
See Exhibit 2 (opinion of battery safety expert David Zuckerbrod);
Exhibit 3 (opinion of MIT materials professor Donald Sadoway;
Exhibit 4 (comments of former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo).
These known dangers have led the FAA to impose severe restrictions and outright bans on the use and carrying of lithium batteries much smaller than the 787 batteries on US airliners. 4.
Smoke and fire in US airliners is not unusual and causes about 250 emergency landings per year, and has resulted in 100% fatal crashes in the recent past . 5
The Boeing 787 is different from other airliners in that it requires five times the electric power of the present Boeing 777 to operate, has only two instead of four engines, and uses a battery known for its volatility and overheating.
Without robust testing that has yet to be done and without operational experience this fix is unproven as safe and should result at most in limited re-certification of the 787 for use only within 120 minutes of emergency landing facilities. Two hours would allow the Boeing 787 to fly transatlantic, nearly all overland routes, and many Pacific routes but not over the North Pole or trans Pacific or south Atlantic routes over 1,000 miles from a landing site.
From the limited information available, the Boeing fix does not appear to include:
a) any battery cooling apparatus at least in the rear section of the plane,
b) temperature gauges to warn pilots and ground monitoring of battery overheating or trigger cooling of overheating batteries, See Exhibit 2, 3.
Moreover, contrary to the Boeing assertions, battery fires would not necessarily be prevented by its venting system, and Boeing does not even contend that battery failure would be prevented by its band aid fix involving a containment vessel and insulation between cells.
The steel case that it claims will suppress a fire weighs 150 pounds thereby largely negating a principal advantage for using the lighter but highly volatile over older but safer cadmium batteries. See Exhibit 2, Zuckerbrod
Finally, a review of the NTSB April forum and investigative hearing transcripts and podcasts indicates:
a) the FAA has not done battery testing of the 787 battery at its tech center, but only on commonly shipped batteries in air cargo.
b) the FAA gave Boeing an extremely broad, if not unprecedented, Delegation of Authority (DOA) for the design, testing protocols, actual testing for the 787 battery certification without direct FAA supervision. Such broad based self regulation is problematic.
It raises a host of conflict of interest questions, possible self dealing and exposes the Boeing employees charged with testing and approving their employer’s products for safety to undue pressures.
It is particularly dangerous here given the known dangers of lithium ion batteries combined with the untested use of such large batteries to control the fly-by-wire Boeing 787 with five times the power requirements of its predecessor, the Boeing 777.
In March 2013 we asked the FAA and DOT Secretary LaHood to empanel a special advisory committee with outside battery experts and representatives of passenger and flight crews to review the battery fixes and testing proposed by Boeing and the certification procedures used, but received only silence from the DOT and FAA. See Exhibit 6.
NTSB Chair Hersman did respond and noted that a forum was scheduled and an investigative hearing was to be held on April 23-24 regarding the latest battery fire on a Boeing 787. But no passenger representatives were invited for participation. The Boeing fix has not been vetted by the battery technical community or the industry associations that normally recommend safety testing standards to government safety agencies. Nor have many of the technical details of the Boeing fix been publicly disclosed.
Accordingly, the lifting of the Boeing 787 grounding order to permit flights up to 3 hours from the nearest landing site is both premature while the NTSB is still investigating the cause of the 787 battery fires and does not meet the Secretary’s statement that the grounding will not be lifted until the aircraft is shown to be “1,000% ” safe.
Rather, the FAA should:
a) empanel an ad hoc advisory committee composed of battery safety experts not affiliated with Boeing or the FAA, together with stakeholder representatives of passengers and flight crews (those directly at risk), in addition to Boeing, airlines and aviation liability insurance carriers to make recommendations.
b) open a docket for public comment and post the full technical details of the Boeing proposed battery fix.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been touted as a revolutionary 21st Century airliner with unmatched fuel efficiency, passenger comfort and the capacity to fly to nearly any destination on Earth nonstop. But to realize this potential Boeing must be required to meet or exceed modern aviation safety standards that it has thus far failed to do.
1. FAA Emergency Air Worthiness Directive issued Jan. 16, 2013 after 787 battery fires on ground at Boston, and in air Jan. 14, 2013 in Japan, making four battery failures in one year or 52,000 hrs of operation vs Boeing’s prediction of one failure every 10 million hrs. of operation; Several other batteries replaced showing evidence of battery overheating, Aviation Herald Feb. 6, 2013; Boeing 787 had 5 incidents in 5 days .
3. ETOPS stands for extended operations for two engine aircraft; the Joint Aviation Authorities represent European civil aviation authorities. Normally, two engine aircraft must show trouble free service for 24 months before an application to fly over 2 hours from the nearest airport will be considered. Prior to the January 2013 grounding, the Boeing 787 had ETOPS 180 certification and Boeing has sought to increase this to ETOPS 330 (5 ½ hours from the nearest airport). See ETOPS, Wikipedia showing that the Joint Aviation Authorities vetoed a Boeing attempt to certify an earlier aircraft without operational experience.
4. Special conditions B787-8 airplane Lithium Ion battery installation FAA/Federal Register Oct. 11, 2007
5. E.g. Swissair Flight 111 (1998, Halifax fire due to flammable material in entertainment system caused crash killing 229 on board; UPS Flight 6 (Sept. 3, 2010 smoke in cockpit from cargo of Lithium Ion batteries crashed killing 2 person crew near Dubai, FAA then banned lithium Ion batteries on passenger jets as cargo and warned than Halon fire extinguishers ineffective for lithium ion battery fires. Other recent examples include American Airlines Eagle Flight 3773 July 20, 2012 emergency landing Peoria Ill., United 777-222 Nov. 2012 emergency landing at Gander Newfoundland; private jet carrying Ann Romney emergency landing in Denver Sept. 21, 2012 due to electrical fire; Sunway Airlines Mar. 13, 2013 in Ottawa. See gen. GAO report www.gao/atext/d0433.txt Oct. 2003.
May 8, 2013
Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (1997-present)
4411 Bee Ridge Rd. #274, Sarasota, Florida 34233
240-391- 1923 fax
Posted by K at 01:21
Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP)
March 7, 2013
800 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20591
490 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20594
RE: Regulatory responses to 787 Battery Fiasco and Introduction of Drones into US airspaceDear Mr. Huerta and Ms Hersman:
I am writing to follow up on a suggestion I made this week at the meeting of the
Executive Committee of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) that
your agencies reach out to the aviation community proactively to ensure that the
safety, security and economic vitality of US aviation is not compromised by the subject
two developments. Specifically, we propose that the FAA task ARAC and an ARC
consisting of non-industry stakeholders to advise the FAA and NTSB on what
rulemaking should be considered in these two areas with reports to be submitted
within six months.
At this point there are more questions than answers, but the DOT clearly needs to cast
a wide net to gather public as well as industry input as it develops new policies and
rules in these important areas.
Investigations by NTSB, the DOT Inspector General or Congressional committees as to
what went wrong in the FAA testing and certification program re the 787 are also
important and essential to prevent repeats.
Questions that need answers include: What went wrong in the testing of 787 batteries
prior to FAA approval that allowed this dangerously defective battery to be used? Did
self-inspection and testing by Boeing and its subcontractors play a role? What should
be done to remedy the inherent conflict of interest produced by manufacturer
employees being used as de facto US government safety inspectors?
The introduction of thousands drones into US airspace is biggest development in
aviation in this century. Civil aviation has been used by terrorists to kill thousands of
Americans and the introduction of drones on a large scale could pose a new hazard of
enormous proportions. The use of drones in US airspace is also highly controversial for
civil liberties as well as for safety, security and labor reasons. Yesterday, Senator
Rand Paul spoke on the Senate floor all day and evening on this subject. Time
Magazine ran a cover story last month, Rise of the Drones, and Congressional hearings
are certain to follow. Our enclosed comments of 3/4/13 sets forth some of the
broad policy and practical questions that need answers.
We look forward to working with you on these issues in a cooperative and productive
manner, and to your timely response to this tasking proposal.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AVIATION CONSUMER ACTION PROJECT
4411 Bee Ridge Rd. #274
Sarasota, Florida 34233
Public Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking
Advisory Committee, EXCOM
Cc Ray LaHood, DOT Secretary
Calvin Scovil, DOT Inspector General
FlyersRights.org (fka the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of
Rights) was founded in 2007 as non-profit corporation to advocate for the
rights and interests of airline passengers by Kate Hanni after she was
stranded on the tarmac for many hours with 10,000 others. It organized a
coalition that successfully advocated for the adoption of the 3 Hour Rule
adopted by the DOT in 2009 that prohibits airlines from confining
passengers on the tarmac for extended periods without returning to the
terminal. In 2012, a passenger rights section it supported was included in
the FAA Reauthorization Act that encouraged the DOT to issue further
aviation consumer protections. With over 25,000 member-supporters it is the
largest airline passenger organization in the U.S. It publishes a weekly
newsletter, maintains a free emergency telephone hotline 1-877-FL YERS-6
to assist airline passengers and an anonymous tips hotline. It relies on
individual donations and receives no funding from government or the airline
The Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP) was founded in 1971 as a
501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation to act a voice for air travelers on national
aviation issues, especially safety and airline passenger consumer rights. It
is funded by contributions from individuals and foundation grants. It
receives no funding and has no business relationships with the airline
industry or any government agency.
ACAP has been a principal advocate for truth in scheduling, lost baggage
and bumping compensation, medical kits on airliners, realistic emergency
evacuation testing, passenger cabin air standards, smoking ban, and airline
competition. It organized a coalition after 9/11 to advocate for the
establishment of the TSA and much stronger aviation security.
Its activities include public education, publication of consumer guides and
research reports, serving on national advisory committees (FAA Aviation
Rulemaking Advisory Committee, F AA/TSA Aviation Security Advisory
Committee, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning
Engineers (ASHRAE) Committee on Aviation Cabin Air Quality),
representation of aviation consumer and the public interest in rulemaking
and litigation activities, testifying before legislative bodies and national and
Paul Hudson has been executive director of ACAP since 1997 and president
ofFlyersRights.org since 2012. He is a New York attorney who has
advocated for airline passenger rights and interests in the Courts, before
Congress, the Executive Branch and in the general and professional media
Posted by K at 01:06
May 10, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Paul Hudson
410-940-8934 or email@example.com
Airline Passenger and Safety Groups Seek to Clip Boeing 787 WingsWASHINGTON, DC -- Challenging the safety of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, two air- passenger advocacy groups are demanding the U.S. government limit flights on the controversial new jet until the safety of its lithium-ion batteries is proven.
FlyersRights.org and the Aviation Consumer Action Project are petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a two hour limit from the nearest airport for the safety of passengers and crew.
The Boeing 787, an advanced technology twin engine airliner made of light weight composite materials with a range of over 9,000 miles, was certified to fly up to 3 hours from the nearest airport in 2011 by the FAA, based on Boeing testing and safety assurances. But the FAA grounded the entire 787 fleet in January 2013 after a battery fire on one 787 and smoke on another.
"Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary," said attorney Paul Hudson, leader of both organizations and a prominent aviation-safety advocate for 25 years.
"The 787 lithium ion batteries have a long history of overheating, catching fire, even exploding. This could easily bring down an airliner, especially if it was not within easy reach of an airport for an emergency landing,” Hudson said. “Such batteries have been labeled as hazardous by the FAA and banned from being carried as cargo on most passenger jets. In one year of operations of 52,000 hours there have been several 787 battery failures versus one for every 10 million hours of predicted by Boeing. Adequate testing of the batteries haven’t been done and the fire investigation is not finished,” he added.
With over 25,000 members nationwide, FlyersRights.org is the nation’s largest non-profit airline passenger organization, which pushed for and won a federal rule limiting tarmac flight delays to 3 hours. The Aviation Consumer Action Project has advocated for air safety, security and consumer rights for over 40 years.
The advocacy groups’ formal petition is backed up by testimony from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, a prominent battery-safety consultant and former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo.
Limiting the 787 to flights within two hours of the nearest airport would ban 787 trans-
Pacific flights, flights over the North Pole. Flights between the US and Europe over the
north Atlantic and flights over land would not be affected by a two-hour limit.
The FAA grounded the American 787 fleet after two 787 battery incidents in January. A
fire erupted in a lithium-ion battery on a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston's Logan
International Airport. Days later, another 787 battery incident forced an emergency
landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways 787. After the FAA's grounding order, other
countries where the 787 is in use followed suit.
Although US investigators still don't know what caused the batteries to overheat, the
FAA has approved a proposed Boeing fix that the manufacturer claims would stop any
fires that started. United Airlines, the only US carrier with 787s in its fleet, is scheduled
to resume 787 flights on May 20. Foreign airlines will resume their 787 flights soon.
On January 18th, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood emphatically stated, “Those planes won’t
fly until we’re 1,000% sure they are safe to fly.”
“Four months is a very short time to be ‘1,000 percent’ sure about anything -- much
less a highly complex lithium-ion battery that’s known to be prone to fire on board an
aircraft carrying over 200 passengers and crew. It would be a shame for Secretary
LaHood to culminate his many years of service with a reckless and hasty
decision like this,” says FlyersRights.org’s Hudson.
Posted by K at 00:59
May 8, 2013
Hon. Michael Huerta
800 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20591
Hon. Ray LaHood
Secretary of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood and Administrator Huerta:
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Section 46109 and 5 U.S.C. Section 553, 554, FlyersRights.org, the Aviation Consumer Action Project and the undersigned hereby petition the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to permit them to be named as intervener parties in the proceedings concerning any relief from the FAA grounding order of the Boeing 787 of January 2013 due to battery failures and fires, and for any related proceedings dealing with the ETOPS certification of this airliner. We also are requesting that an ad hoc advisory committee be appointed of independent battery experts and that a docket be opened to allow public comment on the battery fix proposed by Boeing to resolve the high failure rate and fires in its 787 Dreamliner airliner.
FlyersRights.org is the largest non-profit airline passenger organization with over 25,000 member supporters, many of whom are frequent fliers who would be directly affected as passengers by the safety or lack thereof of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It advocates for the rights and interests of airline passengers, publishes a weekly online newsletter and operates an emergency telephone hotline for airline passengers and a confidential tips hotline. It was founded in 2007 by Kate Hanni after she was stranded on the tarmac with 10,000 others by American Airlines for many hours and ultimately led to the adoption of the 3 hour rule by the DOT and passenger rights legislation contained in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act. It receives no funding from the airline industry.
The Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1971 to act as a voice for air travelers on national aviation issues, especially safety and consumer rights. It has been a principal advocate for truth in scheduling, lost baggage and bumping compensation, medical kits on airliners, realistic emergency evacuation testing, smoking ban, airline competition, and strengthening of aviation security. Its activities include public education, publication of consumer guides and research reports, testimony before legislative committees, and serving on national advisory committees (FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (1997-present, FAA/TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee (1997-2007), ASHRAE Committee on Cabin Air Quality), representation of aviation consumer interests in rulemaking comments and litigation.
I am president of the FlyersRights.org since 2012 and have been executive director of ACAP since 1997, am a frequent air traveler. As an attorney I have concentrated on representing airline passenger interests for over 20 years.
As set forth in the enclosed memorandum with exhibits containing expert opinions, the FAA and DOT should limit any relief from the grounding of the Boeing 787 due of battery failures and fires to at most flying within 2 hours of the nearest airport, pending comprehensive testing of its proposed battery fix and a period of at least 24 months of trouble free operations. This position is supported by substantial independent expert opinion, prior experience with the lithium ion batteries and prior certification decisions and precedents by US and other regulatory authorities.
Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary considering the large financial and reputational stakes for Boeing and the US aviation industry, the serious public hazard posed by 787 battery failures, the extraordinary delegations of authority granted to Boeing by the FAA to test and certify its 787 batteries and the lack of robust testing or safe operation experience with the 787 lithium ion batteries.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your full and careful consideration of this petition.
Paul S. Hudson
Cc: Susan Kurland, Assistant DOT Secretary for Aviation
Hon. Deborah Hersman, Chairwoman, NTSB
Calvin Scovil, DOT Inspector General
Mailing Address: 4411 Bee Ridge Rd. #274, Sarasota, Florida 34233
Phone: 410-940-8934 800-662-1859
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