Boeing Slows 787 Production Rates, to Catch Up with ‘Traveled Work’

Boeing reacted with aggressive denial of charges in the recent news investigation about the 787 Dreamliner, Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787. One charge that nobody even tries to challenge, though, is that this new aircraft has been chronically plagued with delays, even before the first prototype was ready to fly.  The delays have continued in recent months.20140918cpy.. B787's on KPAE FlightlineA new airliner is large, thus difficult to hide … and made even more difficult when ‘spotters’ are avidly pursuing their hobby. Every day, these guys watch out for new aircraft and then share their photos online. The ramp area at Paine Field in Everett is loaded with lots of 787′s, each of which will quickly be flown off when all work is finished. These aircraft are a huge investment; thus, the airlines have no interest in letting them sit for extra days at the factory ramp.

Evidently, Boeing is doing so much ‘Traveled Work’ in recent months that the local paper reports total production is down. Furthermore, some Boeing workers are sharing ‘anonymously’ that they had to work 10- and 12-hour days and on Saturdays, to fix problems. Overtime in Boeing factories is not uncommon, but workers say their workload this time has been greater than usual. The workers have to answer anonymously, because Boeing forbids its workers from speaking publicly about the program.

Here is an excerpt from one of the many insightful comments, responding to the article:

“The FAA needs to send real inspectors, from Washington D.C., not the good ol’ boys that are stationed in the area, and do a complete investigation of the program from the bottom to the top. Come talk to the hourly guys that are doing the work BEFORE they talk to the top brass. They would pull the PC700 on the 787 program in a NY minute. It is funny that the quality of work on the Everett Flightline is great at the north end, Stall 101 and 102 being the best, and by the time one gets to Stalls 108 through 201, ….they all wear hockey helmets and the product shows!”

see also:

A Congressional Letter to FAA, Seeking to Reduce Aviation Noise Impacts

In a recent letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, 26 Congressional Representatives have asked for a ten decibel reduction in FAA’s aviation noise standards. Their aim is to improve citizen health, property values, and quality of life for the millions of U.S. Citizens who are adversely impacted near airports and flight paths.

Below is a jpeg copy of the letter (or click this link for a PDF copy):
20140912.. Congressional letter to FAA-Huerta seeking 55dnl to replace 65dnl (3p)_1 20140912.. Congressional letter to FAA-Huerta seeking 55dnl to replace 65dnl (3p)_2 20140912.. Congressional letter to FAA-Huerta seeking 55dnl to replace 65dnl (3p)_3If you are concerned about FAA’s long history of ignoring the impacts of aviation noise on communities, please contact your representative and ask them to support this letter. Here is a link to locate your elected official (using your zipcode):  http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep?ZIP=97106&Submit=FIND+YOUR+REP+BY+ZIP

The John Woods Whistleblower Case

20140909.. John Woods pic from AlJazeera article
At 32-minutes into Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, the cameras reveal Starkville, Mississippi and then focus in on the story of Whistleblower John Woods. An expert in the manufacturing of composites for aviation, Mr. Woods spoke up for safety at the South Carolina Boeing plant … and he was soon fired. Click on the YouTube display below, and the video will start at the point in the video where Mr. Woods’ story begins.

Mr. Woods was employed in the private sector, but his story is entirely representative of what happens to FAA air traffic controllers, inspectors, and others who similarly speak up for safety. The fact that he is an older employee with many decades of experience is also notable; often, when FAA retaliates against their own employees, they do so to pressure them into early retirements. The pattern is this:

  1. Employee responsibly speaks up about a safety issue.
  2. The Employer is threatened, and retaliates, eventually firing employee.
  3. Employee files a Whistleblower case to higher authorities, such as to FAA’s Office of Audit & Evaluation (Clay Foushee, manager).
  4. After a lengthy delay, the higher authority concludes nothing can be substantiated and drops the case.

In the end, and often after years of delay, all the Whistleblower case processing gives the Agency or company exactly what they want and need: a cleansing of those ‘problem employees’ who have the audacity to speak up for safety. And the dismissed employees? They are each left trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered life.

Changing our Energy Habits

Here’s a collection of graphs and data showing U.S. energy consumption levels and trends, as well as comparing energy consumption for all nations of the world. A bullet-list with some summary interpretations is added below…

Estimated U.S. Energy Use in 2012, 95.1 quadrillion Btu's (LLNL graphic)

(click on image to view LLNL graphic in a new window)

…for more, please click on page two of this Post…

New Investigative Report on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Li-ion Battery Fires

20130117.. Burnt Li-ion Battery B787

An NTSB picture of a charred Li-ion battery, January 2013.

In early 2013, FAA was forced to ground the entire U.S. Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, after two serious incidents in which Li-ion batteries had caught fire. Many aviation safety professionals were very impressed with the transparency and safety advocacy subsequently shown by NTSB and NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman. At the same time, much of FAA’s response smacked of being a loyal waterboy for damage control efforts by Boeing and other corporations in the aviation world.

20140910.. Li-ion Battery becomes a torch

The battery design is extremely volatile. When shot during testing, it quickly became a veritable blow-torch.

FAA’s grounding of the Dreamliner went on for more than three months, and ended on 4/27/2013. In the months since, a few minor incidents have made the news, but more notably there has been a concerted effort by Boeing marketers (with assistance from FAA) to both re-shine the Dreamliner’s image AND micromanage the coverage of all incidents. Eventually, Ms. Hersman resigned her NTSB post and moved on, and Boeing stock has made more than a complete recovery. So, we wait and we hope.

If we are lucky, and if the re-configured marketing efforts were not just hype, we will not see a repeat battery fire or other problem. We will not dread the news when a  Dreamliner filled with passengers has a major failure, out over an ocean and two hours from land.

We hope.

A detailed 48-minute investigative report has been posted on YouTube. Will Jordan and an Al Jazeera team of reporters spent more than a year investigating. They talked with Whistleblowers, management, outsource ‘partners’, union officials, workers, and former DoT Inspector General Mary Schiavo, but they did not talk to any FAA officials. Clay Foushee (AAE-1), as head of the office that is supposed to protect aviation Whistleblowers, would have been an extremely appropriate interview … and his name appears on a memo at around 37-minutes. But, no FAA interviews or, if they did, perhaps the answers were empty and got edited out?

Here are a few quotes and time-marks from this excellent analysis of an FAA/Boeing work culture that appears to have drifted sharply, from safety to earnings reports.

4:50 “We have a contract with Boeing, so we can’t tell any comments to you.”
7:25 “After my building burned down, after that they realized, very emphatically, the danger of this chemistry.”
9:40 “When it comes to building airplanes, the FAA delegates oversight almost completely to the aircraft manufacturers .”
10:35 “I don’t think it’s a sufficient fix. Even inside that steel box, with all of its fortification, all the elements are still there for fire.”
13:50 “…it was almost as if, at times you thought Boeing executives believed, well maybe they could sit in Chicago and have other companies do things, and they would just rake in the money somehow by putting it all together and putting a Boeing sticker on it at the end.”
16:46 “More than any other single event, it was the big lie, and it was a statement that the Boeing Company is now all about the big lie.”
21:10 “They changed basic engineering principles to meet schedule. We all protested.”
24:15 “It’s been eating me alive to know what I know, and to have no avenue, no venue to say anything.”
32:00 The John Woods Whistleblower story (5-minutes)
35:20 “…He turned to the FAA, filing a Whistleblower complaint. The document alleged seven serious violations in the South Carolina plant.” Former DoT-IG Schiavo: “I’ve gotten to the page where they reach their conclusions and the discussion and what they found was that all the allegations, all but one of them they could not substantiate, and the one that they could substantiate, they asked Boeing to fix it, Boeing said ‘OK, we fixed it’, and then they close the investigation. And that’s pretty much how they all go, I mean I’ve seen this so many times.”
37:00 “…It shouldn’t be this hard to do the right thing.”
38:30 “One day you’re regulating the airline, and the next day you’re working for it. You can’t possibly be tough on the industry that you’re regulating, because you’ll never get that plum job after you leave. The regulators at the FAA will rarely cross Boeing.. They simply won’t.”
42:30 Interview with a Boeing VP (and GM of the 787 Program) (2-minutes in, the interview was stopped by Boeing’s Communications Director, and he asked that the cameras be turned off)

Here are links to the aiReform.com Posts related to this issue:

see also:

 

Noise Impacts During Construction at Hillsboro Airport

For the past month, Port of Portland has ignored the legal challenge opposing the new parallel runway project, and has been constructing  the FAA-funded runway at Hillsboro. This has forced training helicopters to not use some areas near the center of the airport. Specifically, the southwestern portion of the Charlie Pattern, which historically has handled the vast majority of helicopter training traffic.
20140805.. KHIO Helicopter Patterns A-B-C, ADDED IMPACT AREASResidents in the two red circles may be noticing greater helicopter noise levels. Once construction is done, the new runway will be used primarily for closed pattern traffic, which means past helicopter patterns will be tweaked. The revised Charlie Pattern will shift toward the northeast AND these Charlie Pattern helicopters will tend to be held lower under the increased fixed wing traffic using the parallel runway. Thus, Charlie Pattern noise impacts should increase slightly.

Residents with noise complaints are encouraged to notify the Port of Portland. If the Port is deficient in their handling of your noise complaint, or if you want your concerns compiled with the concerns of others, please contact the aiREFORM.com administrator.

Here is a copy of the Noise Alert issued by the Port of Portland on 8/5/2014:

Hillsboro Airport – Helicopter Training Alert

Communities near Hillsboro Airport (HIO) may notice an increase in noise generated by helicopter training activities due to runway construction that will begin on August 5, 2014 and continue through September.

During the construction period the Charlie pattern will be reduced in size and it is anticipated that a small number of training helicopters that would normally train in the Charlie pattern, may be diverted to either the Bravo or Alpha patterns.

Thank you for your understanding during these temporary conditions.

Opening Brief Filed in Appeal to Stop Construction of New Parallel Runway at Hillsboro

The red box below presents a copy of the latest Post by Oregon Aviation Watch. It concerns the construction of a new parallel runway at Hillsboro Airport in Oregon [KHIO].

Two facts are driving this unnecessary construction:

  1. FAA has free money to award. Well, sort of free. FAA collects billions every year from airline passenger fees and air cargo taxes, and then doles out these funds to airport projects all over the country. Many times, though, these AIP projects are not needed and are actually just ‘pork’ used to create temporary jobs and help reelect incumbent officials. Sort of like ‘bridges to nowhere’.
  2. The Hillsboro parallel runway is NOT needed at all. In fact, this airport has seen a substantial reduction in itinerant air traffic operations (takeoffs and landings) in the past two decades. In 2013, there were 73,000 itinerant operations, down 24% from the peak year 1997, when there were 96,000 itinerant operations. KHIO has an exceptionally high portion of local ‘training pattern’ flights, mostly connected with Hillsboro Aviation’s helicopter pilot program. [BTW, this mirrors the national trend, where  total operations are down 25% from the year 2000]

In its ongoing quest for consideration of the local community and accountability in the proposed expansion of Hillsboro Airport, Oregon Aviation Watch has filed its opening brief in its latest appeal.

In keeping with their characteristically cavalier attitude towards using public money to promote private business interests at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO), the Port of Portland (Port) began constructing a third runway in early August. The purpose of the runway is to accommodate flight training primarily on behalf of Hillsboro Aviation – a company that recruits students from around the globe then proceeds to train them over our homes and neighborhoods. Recreational pilots are also major beneficiaries of this arrangement.

The more than $17 million lavished on the Port to cover the costs of this expansion are publicly subsidized in large part with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds and ConnectOregon handouts.

Earlier this summer, Oregon Aviation Watch filed a motion for an injunction pending a decision on the merits of the case so that the case could be reviewed by the court prior to construction. Unfortunately, our petition was denied. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed by this ruling.

Nonetheless, after careful deliberation and in light of a recent outpouring of contributions from the community in response to our 7/31/14 email fundraising request, Oregon Aviation Watch has decided to move forward with the challenge to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) conclusion that adding a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport will have no significant impact on the human environment.

Though we fell short of our $9,000 goal, the contributions received so far have bolstered our confidence in our ability to raise enough money to cover legal expenses. Sean Malone, Attorney for Oregon Aviation Watch, submitted our opening brief on 8/11/14.

Oregon Aviation Watch is urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to moving forward with this project. In the 84 years, during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state, the Port of Portland has never taken a hard look nor has it engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the environmental impacts of this facility.

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch and other airport appeals in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated and your words of encouragement along the way have been invaluable.

We still need to raise additional money. This is an all volunteer effort. All contributions go directly towards covering legal costs. Thank you for your support! Donations can be sent to:

Oregon Aviation Watch
PO Box 838
Banks, Oregon 97106

Contributions can also be made by clicking on the menu bar DONATE button at www.oregonaviationwatch.org.

Oregon Aviation Watch is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax exempt. Our Tax ID Number is 27-3131841.

…and here are links to the many informative Posts done by OAW in the past five months…


Oregon Aviation Watch has been tireless in their efforts to get FAA, the Port of Portland, and a few community officials to listen to those who are impacted at Hillsboro. The vast majority of KHIO’s toxic lead and excessive noise is being created by the Hillsboro Aviation flight instruction program. And, much of it is by especially noisy low-altitude helicopters. Many people are being adversely impacted, while just a few are reaping enormous financial profits. This is exactly the sort of airport expansion for which Congress insisted FAA must fully engage impacted citizens. And yet, FAA and the Port of Portland are working together to disempower those same citizens.

If you are concerned about the situation at Hillsboro in particular or the abuse of power by aviation officials in general, please consider helping Oregon Aviation Watch with the costs of their legal efforts. Here is a link to the OAW donation webpage.

“…someone ought to be asking some serious questions of the FAA”

LeehamNews is a Seattle-based blog that offers steady, thoughtful insight into Boeing, Airbus, other commercial aircraft manufacturers, and related topics. In a 8/19/2014 Post, LeehamNews points out FAA inconsistencies in imposing airspace bans, from Ukraine to Syria to Ferguson, MO. Here is a copy:

FAA overflights: It’s big news here in the USA, likely far less so in the rest of the world: the racial unrest in the small Missouri town of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, where an unarmed 18-year African-American male was shot six times by a white policeman. Police say the young man attacked a police office. Witnesses say he had his hands up to comply with the officer’s orders. A grand jury will attempt to sort out facts. In the meantime, demonstrations–some peaceful, some not, some with looting–have turned Ferguson into an armed camp of police looking like the Army, in Humvees, battle gear and automatic weapons.

The US Federal Aviation Administration quickly instituted a low-level flight ban over Ferguson.

Then yesterday, we received a call from the Voice of America asking us to comment on the FAA issuing a flight ban over Syria, a war zone, where combat has been underway for three years.

This comes, of course, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

Over the decades, the FAA has been criticized as being a “tombstone” agency: wait until people die before implementing a rule to save lives. While mostly hyperbole, the characterization, like most cliches, is rooted in basis of fact.

When VOA called, we were, to be frank, gobsmacked the FAA hadn’t previously banned Syrian overflights. Prior to Ukraine, can anyone think of any place on earth where there was a more dangerous combat zone where overflights might not be a good idea?

We’re loath to encourage a hack Congress to do much of anything these days, but someone ought to be asking some serious questions of the FAA.

Florida Airports are Particularly Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise

If there is one U.S. state whose airports are most vulnerable to climate change, it is Florida, where many significant airports are at very low elevation. The busiest Florida airport, KMIA in Miami, is at 9-feet elevation. The state’s fifth-busiest airport, KFLL in Fort Lauderdale,**The airport at Fort Lauderdale is undergoing an $800 Million project to expand one of the runways. The design includes elevating the runway, with bridges over where the extended runway crosses railroad tracks and a major highway (US Highway 1). This may be the first of many necessary and very expensive projects to elevate Florida runways. It seems doubtful that our economy will remain capable of funding such large aviation projects in another decade or two. is also at just 9-feet elevation. The state’s sixth-busiest airport, KTMB to the southwest of Miami, sits at just 10-feet elevation.

As atmospheric CO2 continues to climb, it is expected that the massive amounts of ice on Greenland and Antarctica will continue to melt. The rates of melting in the past decade have increased substantially, and some now believe that we have passed a tipping point — that the meltoff is irreversible. If so, sea levels around the world are expected to rise by dozens of feet. Of course, how quickly the sea levels rise depends on how quickly the ice melts or slides off into the adjacent seas.

Considering the vulnerability of Florida aviation to climate change sea-level rise, it is shocking to see the diversity of reactions by Floridians. On the one extreme, Senator Marco Rubio is in full denial. Yet, on the other extreme, a major Christian group is bucking the conservative trend and speaking of how we have a moral and religious obligation to protect our environment:

“…Climate change just isn’t in faraway places. Florida, your home, literally represents “ground zero.” Sea level rise, more extreme weather, saltwater contaminated wells, loss of farm land and increased air pollution all pose significant threats to the health and well-being of Floridians. Unfortunately, a few in our nation are attempting to portray addressing climate change as a liberal issue. It’s not. It’s a moral challenge to all Americans. It is a call to follow our Risen Lord and act to prepare for the impacts, many of which are already happening, and to work to reduce our carbon pollution to help our children, now and in the future….”

One other area of the U.S. that is especially vulnerable: New York City. The three busiest airports there all average more than 1,000 operations per day and include: KEWR in Newark at 10-feet elevation, KJFK (Kennedy) in New York in Jamaica at 12-feet elevation, and KLGA (LaGuardia) at 12-feet elevation (and with one runway end at just 7-feet elevation).


Links to three recent articles:

 

FAA’s Culture of Unaccountability: The PIX11 Investigative Series, by Mario Diaz

20140730.. Still No Answers, Whitaker (PIX11 Investigates, by Mario Diaz)One of the few journalists today pressing FAA with hard questions is Mario Diaz, at Pix11 TV in the New York market. Mr. Diaz has been investigating a pattern within FAA where air traffic controllers found partially responsible for fatal accidents are put right back to work and are not held accountable.

The fifth in a series of investigative reports aired in the New York market on July 30th. It includes an interview of FAA’s Deputy Administrator, Michael Whitaker, after he had spoken at a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation hearing.

Click here for links to the other investigative reports in this series.