Boeing 737 MAX Dinyatakan Aman Terbang oleh Regulator Penerbangan Eropa

Boeing 737 MAX Dinyatakan Aman Terbang oleh Regulator Penerbangan Eropa

ejak insiden yang menimpa Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air dan Ethiopian, pesawat tersebut dilarang terbang di seluruh dunia. Namun, hari ini Boeing akhirnya mendapat kabar positif setelah sekian lama.

Melalui BloombergEuropean Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) atau regulator penerbangan Eropa telah menyatakan puas atas perkembangan yang dilakukan oleh Boeing untuk pesawat Boeing 737 MAX.

Meski demikian, bukan berarti Boeing 737 MAX akan segera terbang dalam waktu dekat. EASA melalui Executive Director-nya, Patrick Ky, menyatakan bahwa Boeing 737 MAX dinyatakan aman dan bisa kembali terbang sebelum tahun 2020 berakhir.

Saat ini EASA sedang menyiapkan dokumen final untuk sertifikasi kelayakan terbang yang seharusnya akan rampung bulan depan. Kemudian komentar dari publik akan dikumpulkan selama periode 4 minggu. Barulah setelah itu di bulan Desember 2020, Boeing 737 MAX bisa kembali mengudara di langit Eropa.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 milik Garuda Indonesia. Foto oleh Ikhwan Hidayat

Boeing 737 MAX Dituntut Lebih Baik

Meski sudah dinilai layak terbang, namun EASA nampaknya tidak akan puas dengan perkembangan saat ini. Kedepannya, EASA juga mengharapkan perkembangan lanjutan untuk Boeing 737 MAX. Spesifiknya, sistem sensor sintetis ketiga akan dipasang untuk meningkatkan level keamanan dari pesawat tersebut.

Pada insiden terjatuhnya pesawat Lion Air & Ethiopian, sistem sensor angle-of-attack (AOA) pada kedua pilot mengalami malfungsi. Sensor sintetis ketiga tersebut akan menjadi fitur back-up yang membantu pilot untuk melihat apakah pesawat mengarah ke atas atau ke bawah.

Disebutkan bahwa perlu waktu 2 tahun untuk mengembangkan sensor tambahan tersebut, yang mana akan diwajibkan pada varian terbesar Boeing 737 MAX 10 yang akan mulai beroperasi di tahun 2022.

Penutup

Regulator penerbangan Eropa telah memberikan lampu hijau untuk pesawat Boeing 737 MAX. Kemungkinan besar kita bisa melihat pesawat tersebut mulai terbang di langit Eropa sebelum tahun 2021. Melihat perkembangan positif tersebut, tidak menutup kemungkinan pesawat tersebut akan turut mendapat sertifikasi & kembali terbang juga di benua lain.

Ketika kembali terbang, saya cukup percaya bahwa Boeing 737 MAX akan menjadi salah satu jenis pesawat teraman. Wajar saja mengingat banyaknya uji coba dan regulasi baru yang harus dipenuhi oleh Boeing. Meski masih ada keraguan, saya pribadi tidak masalah untuk terbang di pesawat tersebut.

Link: https://pinterpoin.com/boeing-737-max-aman-terbang-eropa/

Rolls-Royce completes ground-testing of technology set to power the world’s fastest all-electric plane: ACCEL

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Rolls-Royce has completed testing of the technology that will power the world’s fastest all-electric plane. All the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core—called an ‘ionBird’—including a 500hp electric powertrain powerful enough to set world speed records and a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes. The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL, short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight”.

The ACCEL project team includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight. The team has been developing the technology while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines; the systems will soon be integrated into Rolls-Royce’s ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane. There is a long history of iron-birds in aviation for testing propulsion systems ahead of flight; in this case Rolls-Royce named the test airframe “ionBird”, after the zero-emission energy source propelling the aircraft. 

The dedicated team have tested each and every component of the system including running the propeller up to full speed (approximately 2,400 rpm) using the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for aircraft propulsion. When at full power during the flight-testing phase, it will propel the aircraft to more than 300 mph setting a new world speed record for electric flight.

More than 6,000 cells are packaged in the battery for maximum safety, minimum weight and full thermal protection. Since January, engineering and test pilots have spent many hours optimizing the system and developing operating procedures for electric flight. GBs of data—generated every hour of operation—are analyzed to improve performance wherever possible. 

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Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net zero carbon by 2050.The completion of ground-testing for the ACCEL project is a great achievement for the team and is another important step towards a world record attempt. This project is also helping to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we remain a leader in delivering the electrification of flight, an important part of our sustainability strategy. —Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical

Bremont will be the official timing partner for the all-electric speed record attempt. The British luxury watch maker has also helped develop the design of the plane’s cockpit which will feature a stopwatch, while the company has machined canopy release parts at its Henley-on-Thames manufacturing facility. 

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The first flight is planned for later this year; the aim is to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year. Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK. The ACCEL project is the first Rolls-Royce project to use offsetting to make the whole program carbon neutral. The company also hopes to inspire young people with the ACCEL project to consider STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Link: https://www.greencarcongress.com/2020/10/20201001-accel.html

How to Fix Plane Certification

In this Monday, June 29, 2020 file photo, a Boeing 737 MAX jet heads to a landing at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, USA.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file

After being grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes, the Boeing 737 MAX is expected to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly again later this fall. Investigations pointed to a problem with the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. This automated control system was designed to stabilize the plane and compensate for the more powerful engines used on the 737 MAX compared to previous versions. The FAA’s certification of the plane has come under fire because manufacturers can speed up the process by having only enhancements to a preapproved aircraft reviewed and certified. Ronnie R. Gipson Jr., an expert in aviation law and visiting professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, whose work was cited in the House Committee on transportation and infrastructure’s report on this issue, explains what happened and ways to improve these safety regulations.


What are the criticisms of the FAA certification process stemming from the 737 MAX crashes?
The process for the certification of a transport category aircraft is a very involved and costly process. The aircraft manufacturers that go down this path have to be committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars. It starts with an initial design, and the aircraft that is produced is then subjected to dynamic flight testing for compliance with all of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Once the airplane satisfies all those requirements, the aircraft is given an original type certificate by the FAA. The aircraft manufacturer is then allowed to produce aircraft and sell them. 

As time goes on, technology advances and the manufacturer identifies ways to improve on that original design. So the manufacturer goes back to the FAA and says, “We want to take this initial design that we have and amend it because we made some changes.” At this point, the aircraft manufacturer files what’s called an amended type certificate application for a derivative aircraft from the baseline aircraft. For example, the original type certificate for the first 737 design was submitted to the FAA in 1967. That original design has had multiple derivative aircraft approved by the FAA, with the 737 MAX being the 13th version. In the amended type certification process, the regulatory authority focuses only on what’s changed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the FAA just doesn’t have the manpower to oversee all the tests that go with an amended type certificate approval. Therefore, the FAA reviews most of the critical changes related to safety and delegates the noncritical changes for review to the manufacturers – in this case to a body in Boeing which consists essentially of Boeing employees.


And that’s what happened here. MCAS wasn’t necessarily presented as a change in the design impacting control in flight. As a result, the MCAS was not a priority for the FAA in the amended certificate approval process. The MCAS capabilities and what it was supposed to control were never fully revealed. That’s really where the problem started. It was with the narrative that was being presented to the FAA, and the lack of oversight in the amended type certificate process. The result was that the MCAS system that was initially presented to the FAA at the beginning of the amended type certificate process was not the same system that ended up in the aircraft (view chart in gallery).


How will the recent recertification for the 737 MAX ensure that the model is now safe?
The FAA has had to backtrack and give the MCAS system the intense level of scrutiny that it deserved. The FAA has required the manufacturer to go back and make significant adjustments to the software, in addition to changes to the operator’s manual, which is what the pilots would see.


How can the certification process be improved?

I see two paths to take. First, for a transport category aircraft, regulations are changed so that the manufacturer can receive amended type certificates for only 20 years after the original type certificate has been issued by the FAA.Here’s how that would work: An aircraft manufacturer designs an aircraft for certification in the transport category and applies for the original type certificate in 2020. Once the original type certification is awarded in, say, 2025, then the manufacturer should have 20 years. That means that the manufacturer would have until the year 2045 to seek an amendment to that original type certificate. Beginning in 2046, if the aircraft manufacturer wants to make subsequent design changes, they have to start over and get a new original type certificate.The second component to resolving this problem would be to step in and review what areas the FAA can delegate oversight authority for system changes in an amended aircraft certification application review.


What are the obstacles to making these changes?

One would be money. The FAA has a budget, and these are very costly measures because the FAA will need more engineers and administrators. And for that to happen, Congress has to be prepared to spend the money to make that happen by increasing the FAA’s budget.
There’s also going to be a cost to the industry. Implementing the proposal of a 20-year cap on the validity of that original type certificate is going to impose a greater financial cost on the aircraft manufacturers of transport category aircraft. They’re not going to have as much time to get a return on their investment for the aircraft that they produce. So the aircraft are going to end up costing more, which means the airlines are going to end up paying more for those planes. And that cost is going to trickle down to the flying public in those seats.

Certification timeline of the Boeing 737 series of aircraft.US Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General

Link: https://www.mbtmag.com/home/news/21196218/how-to-fix-plane-certification

World First Hydrogen-Electric Passenger Plane Flight

Given the role that metrology plays in the manufacturing and support of commercial and military aviation Metrology.News believes that the following news story is of measurable significance, and worthy of bringing to the attention of the metrology sector, as the aviation industry takes a step-forward in decarbonising commercial aviation. 

ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has completed the world first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. The flight took place at the company’s R&D facility in Cranfield, England, with the Piper M-class six-seat plane completing taxi, takeoff, a full pattern circuit, and landing. 

ZeroAvia’s achievement is the first step to realising the transformational possibilities of moving from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen as the primary energy source for commercial aviation. Eventually, and without any new fundamental science required, hydrogen-powered aircraft will match the flight distances and payload of the current fossil fuel aircraft. 

This major milestone on the road to commercial zero-emission flight is part of the HyFlyer project, a sequential R&D programme supported by the UK Government and follows the UK’s first ever commercial-scale battery-electric flight, conducted in the same aircraft in June. ZeroAvia will now turn its attention to the next and final stage of its six-seat development program – a 250-mile zero emission flight out before the end of the year. The demonstration of this range is roughly equivalent to busy major routes such as Los Angeles to San Francisco or London to Edinburgh. 

​“It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight. While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon. All of the team at ZeroAvia and at our partner companies can be proud of their work getting us to this point, and I want to also thank our investors and the UK Government for their support.” comment’s Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia CEO. 

ZeroAvia’s innovation programme in the UK is part-funded through the UK Government’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme. Through the HyFlyer project, ZeroAvia is working with key partners the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Intelligent Energy to decarbonise medium-range small passenger aircraft by demonstrating powertrain technology to replace conventional engines in propeller aircraft. Intelligent Energy will optimise its high power fuel cell technology for application in aviation whilst EMEC, producers of green hydrogen from renewable energy, will supply the hydrogen required for flight tests and develop a mobile refuelling platform compatible with the plane. 

In addition to all the aircraft work, ZeroAvia and EMEC have developed the Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem (HARE) at Cranfield Airport – a microcosm of what the hydrogen airport ecosystem will look like in terms of green hydrogen production, storage, refuelling and fuel cell powered-flight.

This also marks another world’s first – a fully operational hydrogen production and refueling airport facility for primary commercial aircraft propulsion. The successful flight represents good news for the aviation industry’s role in supporting the net zero transition, but also raises hopes for innovation that can reduce commercial challenges in the medium term, particularly important for the industry as it considers the post pandemic recovery.

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain is projected to have lower operating costs than its jet-fuelled competition due to lower fuel and maintenance costs. The company plans to control hydrogen fuel production and supply for its powertrains, and other commercial customers, substantially reducing the fuel availability and pricing risks for the entire market.

Link: https://metrology.news/world-first-hydrogen-electric-passenger-plane-flight/

FAA chief not ready to re-approve Boeing 737 Max

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Chief Steve Dickson conducted a nearly two-hour evaluation flight at the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday (September 30), a milestone for the jet to win approval to resume flying after two fatal crashes. Dickson, a former military and commercial pilot, and other FAA and Boeing pilots landed shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1800 GMT) at King County International Airport – also known as Boeing Field – in the Seattle area. “I like what I saw on the flight,” Dickson told a news conference afterwards, but said he was not ready to give the jet a clean bill of health, with FAA reviews still ongoing.”We are not to the point yet where we have completed the process,” Dickson said. Dickson also told reporters he had completed the revised pilot training protocols and a session in a flight simulator. The flight was a key part of the U.S. planemaker’s long-delayed quest to persuade the FAA to lift a March 2019 grounding order triggered by 737 MAX crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people within a five-month period.

The accidents plunged Boeing into its worst-ever crisis, strained its relationship with the FAA, threw into question the U.S. regulator’s position as the standard-bearer for global aviation safety and prompted bipartisan calls in Congress to overhaul how the FAA certifies new airplanes. Dickson said; “The FAA and I in particular, will not approve the plane for return to passenger service until I’m satisfied that we’ve adequately addressed all of the known safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Not a day goes by that I and my colleagues don’t think about the victims and their families.”

Link: https://www.yahoo.com/news/faa-chief-not-ready-approve-220113025.html

Top FAA official flies revamped grounded Boeing 737 MAX: ‘We’re in the home stretch’

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FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said he would fly a Boeing 737 MAX jet before it was recertified in the U.S.
SEATTLE — The head of the Federal Aviation Administration conducted a test flight of Boeing’s revamped 737 MAX jetliner on Wednesday as the agency considers whether to allow the plane to return to flight after two deadly crashes.
FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, a pilot who flew for the military and Delta Air Lines, sat in the captain’s seat during a two-hour flight. An FAA spokesman said Boeing pilots were also on the plane when it took off from King County International Airport.

Dickson and Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell, the FAA’s top two officials, addressed media questions Wednesday morning about the flight and where the FAA stands as several more milestones remain to be worked through before the 18-month-old grounding is lifted.
During the press conference, Dickson said he wanted to be clear that his test flight Wednesday was separate from the official certification process underway by the FAA. Last year, Dickson said he would personally fly the 737 MAX and not sign off on its return until he was “comfortable putting his family on it.”

Dickson said Wednesday he took the same training that the Joint Operations Evaluation Board recently looked at during their work at the London Gatwick Airport, followed by a session in a 737 MAX simulator.
“It was important to me to experience firsthand the training and the handling of the aircraft so I can have the most complete understanding possible as we move forward with this process,” said Dickson.
The crew put the jet through repeated changes in direction, speed and altitude as it headed east over the Cascade Range into central Washington state, according to data from tracking site Flightradar24.com.
“I like what I saw [during the flight], said Dickson. “Its been a constructive week. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items for the Boeing team and FAA team. I have some observations that I’m going to share with them. That’s going to be incorporated into the process going forward.”

The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two deadly crashes. The crashes have been blamed on an automated anti-stall system that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty readings from sensors. Boeing hopes to win FAA approval later this year for changes it has made to flight-control software and computers.
“Not a day goes by that I and my colleagues don’t think about the victims and their families and our solemn responsibility to get this right,” Dickson said Wednesday.
The FAA won’t approve passenger service for the 737 MAX until the known safety issues that played a role in the two deadly crashes have been “adequately addressed.”
“We’re in the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to take shortcuts to get it done by a certain date,” said Dickson.

In Washington, the House Transportation Committee approved legislation to change the way the FAA certifies new planes, including the agency’s reliance on employees of Boeing and other aircraft makers to perform key safety analysis.
The bill would not eliminate the FAA’s use of private-sector employees to review their own companies’ planes – lawmakers believe it would be too expensive for FAA to do the work, and that the aerospace companies have more technical expertise. Instead, the bill would give FAA approval over picking private-sector employees who perform safety analysis and allow civil penalties for companies that interfere with their work. Boeing whistleblowers complained of pressure to approve systems on the MAX.

The bill would also require plane manufacturers to tell the FAA, airlines and pilots about automated systems that can alter a plane’s path. Top FAA officials and most pilots did not know about the anti-stall system on the MAX, called MCAS, until after the first crash, in October 2018 in Indonesia. Less than five months later, another MAX crashed in Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died.
“Safety has to be the primary role for the FAA, and that’s one of the concerns we had in our investigative report, that Boeing and the FAA were too close, and that needs to be separated,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, the Washington state Democrat who is chair of the Aviation Subcommittee.
“Those crashes were the inevitable culmination of stunning acts of omissions within Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration,” said committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., a staunch defender of the FAA, said the agency represents “the gold standard” in aviation regulation but the crashes show the need for improvement.

The committee approved the bill by what appeared to be a unanimous voice vote. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., left the meeting after complaining that lawmakers had only one day to read the bill, which he called an “absurd” rush for such a complex, technical subject.
The measure, based on recommendations from U.S. and international regulators and safety investigators, goes next to the full House. Its fate is uncertain, however. A similar bill was pulled from consideration in a Senate committee on Sept. 16, and Congress is rushing to adjourn so that lawmakers can go home and campaign for re-election.

Link: https://www.king5.com/article/tech/science/aerospace/boeing/boeing-737-max-test-flight-faa-stephen-dickson/281-9be0a501-a174-49b6-9800-bca40f150a0b

FAA chief will pilot Boeing’s 737 MAX in Seattle Wednesday as ungrounding nears

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson on Wednesday will fulfill a promise he made just months after taking command of the regulatory agency in the midst of Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis.

“I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until I fly it myself and am satisfied I would put my own family on it without a second thought,” Dickson told FAA employees last November.

On Wednesday he’ll take off from Boeing Field in a high-profile test flight intended as Dickson’s personal assurance to the public that the MAX is safe following 19 months of intense scrutiny by his agency.

It’s the clearest signal yet that the FAA is poised to unground the jet in late October or early November.

The MAX was grounded worldwide in early March 2019 after the second of two fatal accidents that together killed 346 people aboard almost-new aircraft. A series of investigations established that the pilots on the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jets struggled against a flawed flight control system on the MAX that overcame their commands.

Since then, the FAA and international regulators have been minutely examining the fixes proposed by Boeing.

As the company girds against the new existential threat posed by the historic pandemic-driven aviation downturn, Dickson’s flight is a high-stakes moment.

For the MAX crisis that has consumed Boeing, shattering its plans for accelerated production and causing the loss of significant market share to rival Airbus, it could perhaps at last be a turning point.

Dickson tests Boeing’s fixes
Dickson’s MAX test plane is scheduled to depart from Boeing Field at about 9 a.m. and is expected to fly for about two hours. Dickson will brief reporters after landing, at a news conference around 11:30 a.m. that will be broadcast live on the FAA’s website and social-media platforms.

On Tuesday in Seattle, Dickson and FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell completed the recommended new pilot training for the MAX as part of the preparation for the flight.

Dickson is a former Air Force F-15 jet fighter pilot, and as a captain with Delta Air Lines he flew the previous models of the 737 as well as other Boeing and Airbus jets. At Delta, he rose to senior vice president of flight operations, responsible for the safety and operational performance of the airline’s global fleet.

He took charge of the FAA in July 2019.

Testifying in December before the U.S. House Transportation Committee, Dickson reiterated the FAA position that “when the 737 MAX is returned to service, it will be because the safety issues have been addressed and pilots have received all the
training they need to safely operate the aircraft.”

Last December, Dickson starkly rebuked Boeing’s then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg for seeming to push for clearance to fly the MAX by the end of that month.

In August, the FAA laid out the proposed design changes on the MAX that it believes will make it safe. The proposals drew more than 200 comments from the public and aviation experts.

As the ungrounding approaches, foreign aviation regulators are lining up their own requirements and Congress is beginning to consider legislation to reform the process through which the FAA certifies airliners.

Last week, the executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky, said publicly that his agency expects to sign off on ungrounding the 737 MAX in November.

EASA will stipulate further changes beyond those in the FAA proposal, but Ky said those can be retrofitted after the jet’s return to service and so won’t delay the MAX’s ungrounding.

And on Monday, the House Committee on Transportation announced a bipartisan legislative proposal designed to strengthen the FAA certification process.

However, at this point ahead of the election, it’s unlikely new legislation can be passed before next year.

An FAA report detailing the required pilot training must be published, with a period for public comment.

And a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board must review the final design documentation and issue its report.

Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson speaks to journalists at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019. Dickson will fly Boeing’s updated 737 MAX  Wednesday to assure the public the jet is now safe. (Jon Gambrell / The Associated Press)
Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson speaks to journalists at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019. Dickson will fly Boeing’s updated 737 MAX Wednesday to assure the public the jet is now safe. (Jon Gambrell / The Associated Press) 

Link: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-chief-will-pilot-boeings-737-max-in-seattle-wednesday-as-ungrounding-nears/

FAA Recommends Airlines Warn Pilots About Boeing 787 ILS Issue

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The FAA has issued an airworthiness bulletin over problems with Dreamliner ILS approaches. Photo: Boeing Newsroom

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin for owners and operators of Boeing’s Dreamliner on Thursday. The bulletin applies to the three Dreamliner models, the 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10. In their bulletin, the FAA flags the possibility of the autopilot flight director system failing to capture the localizer on an ILS approach.

The FAA says there were reports that;

“…the autopilot flight director system was not providing proper guidance to capture the localizer when intercepting the localizer at large angles (40 degrees or more) from the runway and beam centerline.”

FAA bulletin follows problems with Dreamliner ILS approaches at Hong Kong
Earlier this year, Simple Flying reported that there had been five incidents at Hong Kong Airport where Boeing 787 aircraft descended below the minimum safe altitude. It was believed the terrain around the airport was causing the false or failed localizer signal captures. At the time, Boeing told Simple Flying;

“Boeing is working closely on this issue with the AAIA and CAD in Hong Kong as well as the FAA. Boeing has provided information to 787 operators, including instructions for pilots to monitor data closely on certain approaches. We are also working on a permanent resolution.”

FAA bulletin provides a forensic breakdown of the ILS problem
The bulletin issued by the FAA yesterday provides a forensic breakdown of the problem with Dreamliner ILS. According to the FAA, guidance from the autopilot flight director system partially reduced the intercept angle. However, the aircraft continued through the localizer at a heading not aligned with the runway centerline. The primary flight display continued to display “LOC” as the active roll mode, and there was no indication of a failure to capture.

However, both the localizer pointer and scale on the primary flight display did reveal the error. The affected aircraft initially turned toward the localizer heading, “but then stopped short and flew at a constant heading that intercepted the runway heading at a 20 to 30-degree angle.”

The FAA says localizer and glideslope modes were engaged, and the AFDS provided guidance to descend on the glideslope. This meant the aircraft continued to deviate from the runway centerline and descend on an incorrect heading.

Over 1,000 Dreamliners are in service around the world. The agile plane has proved a big hit with airlines and is now flown by scores of operators. But the Dreamliner has not been without its problems.

There have been continual quality control problems dating back the best part of a decade. These include problems concerning parts of the fuselage not meeting exacting engineering standards. In August, issues with improper fuselage shimming and inner skin surfacing were highlighted at Boeing’s 787 factory in Charleston. There have also been quality-control problems with the Dreamliner’s horizontal stabilizers.

In response to the incidents and the subsequent FAA bulletin, Boeing has issued a new Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin. The Boeing bulletin flags the problem and provides information on the operating instructions for AFDS operation during an ILS approach. The FAA also advised yesterday that Boeing is still working on updating the software to fix the problematic localizer mode behavior during Dreamliner ILS approaches.

Link: https://simpleflying.com/boeing-787-ils-issue-warning/

House Report Condemns Boeing and F.A.A. in 737 Max Disasters

Here I share Final Committee Report – The Design, Development and Certification of the Boeing B737 Max from MAJORITY STAFF OF THE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE (The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastucture), USA Congress

A committee’s Democrats say two fatal crashes were a “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and oversight lapses.

A congressional report released on Wednesday followed an 18-month investigation of two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.
A congressional report released on Wednesday followed an 18-month investigation of two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.Credit…Lindsey Wasson for The New York Times

The two crashes that killed 346 people aboard Boeing’s 737 Max and led to the worldwide grounding of the plane were the “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and a severe lack of federal oversight, the Democratic majority on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said in a report on Wednesday.

The report, which condemns both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for safety failures, concludes an 18-month investigation based on interviews with two dozen Boeing and agency employees and an estimated 600,000 pages of records. The report argues that Boeing emphasized profits over safety and that the agency granted the company too much sway over its own oversight.

“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the committee chairman. “It could have been prevented, and we’re going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again.”

Republicans on the committee, without issuing their own report, also called for safety improvements. But Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican, said that while change was needed, congressional action should be based on expert recommendations, “not a partisan investigative report.”

The report was issued as the F.A.A. appeared close to lifting its March 2019 grounding order for the Max after evaluating data from test flights this summer and proposing changes to the jet. F.A.A. clearance could lead aviation authorities elsewhere to follow suit and allow the plane to fly again as soon as this winter.

Even as it strives to get the Max back into service, Boeing is contending with other challenges, including the deep downturn in air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic, and quality concerns about its 787 Dreamliner.

The congressional report on the Max identified five broad problems with the plane’s design, construction and certification. First, the race to compete with the European rival Airbus and its new A320neo led Boeing to make production goals and cost-cutting a higher priority than safety, the Democrats argued. Second, the company made deadly assumptions about software known as MCAS, which was blamed for sending the planes into nose dives. Third, Boeing withheld critical information from the F.A.A. Fourth, the agency’s practice of delegating oversight authority to Boeing employees left it in the dark. And finally, the Democrats accused F.A.A. management of siding with Boeing and dismissing its own experts.

“These issues must be addressed by both Boeing and the F.A.A. in order to correct poor certification practices that have emerged, reassess key assumptions that affect safety and enhance transparency to enable more effective oversight,” the Democrats said in the report.

A 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia last year. Investigators blamed faulty sensors for activating software that pushed the plane’s nose down.
A 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia last year. Investigators blamed faulty sensors for activating software that pushed the plane’s nose down.Credit…Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press

The findings are largely in line with an abundance of information uncovered by federal investigators, news reporters and the committee’s preliminary work after the crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopia in March 2019.

Those crashes were caused in part by the MCAS system. Because the engines are larger and placed higher than those on the plane’s predecessor, they can cause the jet’s nose to push upward. MCAS was designed to push the nose back down. In both crashes, the software was activated by faulty sensors, sending the planes toward the ground as the pilots struggled to pull them back up.

The deaths could have been avoided if not for a series of safety lapses at Boeing and “grossly insufficient” oversight at the F.A.A., the Democrats argued. Internal communications at Boeing showed that several employees raised concerns about MCAS over the years, but their concerns were either dismissed or inadequately addressed, the House report said. It also accused Boeing of intentionally misleading the F.A.A., echoing a July report from the Transportation Department’s inspector general.

That report found that Boeing had failed to share critical information with regulators about important changes to MCAS and had been slow to share a formal safety risk assessment with the agency. The inspector general also said that Boeing had chosen to portray the MCAS software as a modification to an existing system rather than a new one, in part to ease the certification process, a decision that an authorized F.A.A. representative at the company agreed with, according to the congressional report.

Debris from the crash in Indonesia in 2018. Regulators could clear the 737 Max to fly again by this winter.
Debris from the crash in Indonesia in 2018. Regulators could clear the 737 Max to fly again by this winter.Credit…Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

Under federal law, the agency is allowed to delegate some oversight to manufacturers, but that practice backfired at Boeing, the congressional report found.

In 2012, for example, a Boeing test pilot took more than 10 seconds to reverse an MCAS activation, a response time that he later described as “catastrophic.” Boeing cited that finding several times over the years in internal documents, but the House report found no evidence that any of the four F.A.A. representatives at the company who knew of the finding ever passed it on to the agency. Sharing the information was not required, but the failure to do so was “inconceivable and inexcusable,” the report said.

F.A.A. management came in for severe criticism over its response to the crashes. In December, the report said, Ali Bahrami, the F.A.A.’s associate administrator for aviation safety, told committee staff members that he was unaware of an internal assessment produced after the first crash that had predicted 15 more over the lifetime of the Max fleet if MCAS was not fixed.

The report also said the agency was “inexplicably slow” in turning over records.

“The F.A.A. was actually more frustrating” than Boeing, Mr. DeFazio said on a call with reporters. “I’m not sure that we ever got all of the email chains we wanted. They claimed to have a very primitive old computer system.”

The report faulted Boeing for a lack of transparency, driven in part by a desire to play down the need for simulator training for pilots. Under a 2011 contract with Southwest Airlines, for example, Boeing had promised to discount each of the 200 planes in the airline’s order by $1 million if the F.A.A. required such simulator training for pilots moving from an earlier version of the aircraft, the 737NG, to the Max. That, the committee argued, created an incentive for Boeing to withhold critical safety information from the agency.

“This report lays bare the lie that Boeing cares about safety or the hundreds of lives they have ruined,” said Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband, Army Capt. Antoine Lewis, died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. “Boeing cut corners, lied to regulators, and simply considers this the cost of doing business.”

Democrats declined to provide details of prospective legislation, but said they were working on bipartisan reforms that could be passed before the end of the year.

“We are working closely with Republicans in the hope of coming to an agreement on a reform proposal in the very near future,” Representative Rick Larsen of Washington, the chairman of the aviation subcommittee, told reporters.

In a statement, Boeing said it had learned lessons from the crashes and had started to act on the recommendations of experts and government authorities.

“Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019,” the company said. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators and the flying public.”

The revised Max design has received extensive review, the company said, arguing that once the plane is ready to fly again, “it will be one of the most thoroughly scrutinized aircraft in history.”

The F.A.A. said in a statement that it would work with the committee to carry out any recommended changes and was already making some of its own.

“These initiatives are focused on advancing overall aviation safety by improving our organization, processes and culture,” it said.

Last month, the agency announced plans to require a number of design changes to the Max before it can fly again, including updating MCAS and rerouting some internal wiring. The proposed rule is open for public comment until next week. Barring major obstacles, the agency could lift its grounding order on the plane in the weeks or months to come, allowing Boeing to prepare the planes to fly as soon as this winter.

While hundreds of orders for the jet have been canceled, several thousand remain. In some cases, customers cannot break contracts or are otherwise deeply entwined with Boeing. Many also still want to add the Max to their fleet. A new plane can last a generation and typically requires little maintenance in the first few years of use. The Max promises substantial fuel savings, too, which can add up over several decades.

Still, Boeing warned in January that the grounding would cost more than $18 billion. And that was before the severe downturn in travel caused by the pandemic. Last month, Boeing said it would expand the 10 percent cut to its work force announced in April. And the company said last week that deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, a large twin-aisle jet used for long-distance flights, had been slowed by new quality concerns.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/business/boeing-737-max-house-report.html

With Ultralight Lithium-Sulfur Batteries, Electric Airplanes Could Finally Take Off



Oxis Energy’s design promises outstanding energy density, manufacturability, and safety

By Mark Crittenden

A jet airliner with batteries for engines.
Photo-illustration: Edmon de Haro

Electric aircraft are all the rage, with prototypes in development in every size from delivery drones to passenger aircraft. But the technology has yet to take off, and for one reason: lack of a suitable battery.

For a large passenger aircraft to take off, cruise, and land hundreds of kilometers away would take batteries that weigh thousands of kilograms—far too heavy for the plane to be able to get into the air in the first place. Even for relatively small aircraft, such as two-seat trainers, the sheer weight of batteries limits the plane’s payload, curtails its range, and thus constrains where the aircraft can fly. Reducing battery weight would be an advantage not only for aviation, but for other electric vehicles, such as cars, trucks, buses, and boats, all of whose performance is also directly tied to the energy-to-weight ratio of their batteries.

For such applications, today’s battery of choice is lithium ion. It reached maturity years ago, with each new incremental improvement smaller than the last. We need a new chemistry.

Since 2004 my company, Oxis Energy, in Oxfordshire, England, has been working on one of the leading contenders—lithium sulfur. Our battery technology is extremely lightweight: Our most recent models are achieving more than twice the energy density typical of lithium-ion batteries. Lithium sulfur is also capable of providing the required levels of power and durability needed for aviation, and, most important, it is safe enough. After all, a plane can’t handle a sudden fire or some other calamity by simply pulling to the side of the road.

The new technology has been a long time coming, but the wait is now over. The first set of flight trials have already been completed.

Fundamentally, a lithium-sulfur cell is composed of four components:

  • The positive electrode, known as the cathode, absorbs electrons during discharge. It is connected to an aluminum-foil current collector coated with a mixture of carbon and sulfur. Sulfur is the active material that takes part in the electrochemical reactions. But it is an electrical insulator, so carbon, a conductor, delivers electrons to where they are needed. There is also a small amount of binder added to ensure the carbon and sulfur hold together in the cathode.
  • The negative electrode, or anode, releases electrons during discharge. It is connected to pure lithium foil. The lithium, too, acts as a current collector, but it is also an active material, taking part in the electrochemical reaction.
  • A porous separator prevents the two electrodes from touching and causing a short circuit. The separator is bathed in an electrolyte containing lithium salts.
  • An electrolyte facilitates the electrochemical reaction by allowing the movement of ions between the two electrodes.

These components are connected and packaged in foil as a pouch cell. The cells are in turn connected together—both in series and in parallel—and packaged in a 20 ampere-hour, 2.15-volt battery pack. For a large vehicle such as an airplane, scores of packs are connected to create a battery capable of providing tens or hundreds of amp-hours at several hundred volts.

Lithium-sulfur batteries are unusual because they go through multiple stages as they discharge, each time forming a different, distinct molecular species of lithium and sulfur. When a cell discharges, lithium ions in the electrolyte migrate to the cathode, where they combine with sulfur and electrons to form a polysulfide, Li2S8. At the anode, meanwhile, lithium molecules give up electrons to form positively charged lithium ions; these freed electrons then move through the external circuit—the load—which takes them back to the cathode. In the electrolyte, the newly produced Li2S8 immediately reacts with more lithium ions and more electrons to form a new polysulfide, Li2S6. The process continues, stepping through further polysulfides, Li2S4 and Li2S2, to eventually become Li2S. At each step more energy is given up and passed to the load until at last the cell is depleted of energy.

Recharging reverses the sequence: An applied current forces electrons to flow in the opposite direction, causing the sulfur electrode, or cathode, to give up electrons, converting Li2S to Li2S2. The polysulfide continues to add sulfur atoms step-by-step until Li2S8 is created in the cathode. And each time electrons are given up, lithium ions are produced that then diffuse through the electrolyte, combining with electrons at the lithium electrode to form lithium metal. When all the Li2S has been converted to Li2S8, the cell is fully charged.

This description is simplified. In reality, the reactions are more complex and numerous, taking place also in the electrolyte and at the anode. In fact, over many charge and discharge cycles, it is these side reactions that cause degradation in a lithium-sulfur cell. Minimizing these, through the selection of the appropriate materials and cell configuration, is the fundamental, underlying challenge that must be met to produce an efficient cell with a long lifetime.

Anatomy of a Battery

A lithium-sulfur cell goes through stages as it discharges [left]. In each stage, lithium ions in the electrolyte flow to the cathode, where they form polysulfides having ever higher sulfur-to-lithium ratios. Charging reverses the process. Cells are linked into battery packs, which themselves fit into a casing, along with battery-management devices.

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img Illustration: Chris Philpot

One great challenge for both lithium-ion and lithium-sulfur technologies has been the tendency for repeated charging and discharging cycles to degrade the anode. In the case of lithium ion, ions arriving at that electrode normally fit themselves into interstices in the metal, a process called intercalation. But sometimes ions plate the surface, forming a nucleus on which further plating can accumulate. Over many cycles a filament, or dendrite, may grow until it reaches the opposing electrode and short-circuits the cell, causing a surge of energy, in the form of heat that irreparably damages the cell. If one cell breaks down like this, it can trigger a neighboring cell to do the same, beginning a domino effect known as a thermal runaway reaction—in common parlance, a fire.

With lithium-sulfur cells, degradation of the lithium-metal anode is also a problem. However, this occurs via a very different mechanism, one that does not involve the formation of dendrites. In lithium-sulfur cells, uneven current densities on the anode surface cause lithium to be plated and stripped unevenly as the battery is charged and discharged. Over time, this uneven plating and stripping causes mosslike deposits on the anode that react with the sulfide and polysulfides in the electrolyte. These mosslike deposits become electrically disconnected from the bulk anode, leaving less of the anode surface available for chemical reaction. Eventually, as this degradation progresses, the anode fails to operate, preventing the cell from accepting charge.

Developing solutions to this degradation problem is crucial to producing a cell that can perform at a high level over many charge-discharge cycles. A promising strategy we’ve been pursuing at Oxis involves coating the lithium-metal anode with thin layers of ceramic materials to prevent degradation. Such ceramic materials need to have high ionic conductivity and be electrically insulating, as well as mechanically and chemically robust. The ceramic layers allow lithium ions to pass through unimpeded and be incorporated into the bulk lithium metal beneath.

We are doing this work on the protection layer for the anode in partnership with Pulsedeon and Leitat, and we’re optimistic that it will dramatically increase the number of times a cell can be discharged and charged. And it’s not our only partnership. We’re also working with Arkema to improve the cathode in order to increase the power and energy density of the battery.

Indeed, the key advantage of lithium-ion batteries over their predecessors—and of lithium sulfur over lithium ion—is the great amount of energy the cells can pack into a small amount of mass. The lead-acid starter battery that cranks the internal combustion engine in a car can store about 50 watt-hours per kilogram. Typical lithium-ion designs can hold from 100 to 265 Wh/kg, depending on the other performance characteristics for which it has been optimized, such as peak power or long life. Oxis recently developed a prototype lithium-sulfur pouch cell that proved capable of 470 Wh/kg, and we expect to reach 500 Wh/kg within a year. And because the technology is still new and has room for improvement, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate 600 Wh/kg by 2025.

When cell manufacturers quote energy-density figures, they usually specify the energy that’s available when the cell is being discharged at constant, low power rates. In some applications such low rates are fine, but for the many envisioned electric aircraft that will take off vertically, the energy must be delivered at higher power rates. Such a high-power feature must be traded off for lower total energy-storage capacity.

Photo of an airplane.
Photo of a man standing over a machine.
Photos: Bye Aerospace; Oxis Energy
All Amped Up: Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 2 [top] is designed to train pilots. Bye is working with Oxis Energy on a lithium-sulfur battery that promises to increase the plane’s range. Here a reel of positive electrode, made of sulfur, is being coated onto a current collector [bottom].  

Furthermore, the level of energy density achievable in a single cell might be considerably greater than what’s possible in a battery consisting of many such cells. The energy density doesn’t translate directly from the cell to the battery because cells require packaging—the case, the battery management system, and the connections, and perhaps cooling systems. The weight must be kept in check, and for this reason our company is using advanced composite materials to develop light, strong, flameproof enclosures.

If the packaging is done right, the energy density of the battery can be held to 80 percent of that of the cells: A cell rated at 450 Wh/kg can be packaged at more than 360 Wh/kg in the final battery. We expect to do better by integrating the battery into the aircraft, for instance, by making the wing space do double duty as the battery housing. We expect that doing so will get the figure up to 90 percent.

To optimize battery performance without compromising safety we rely, first and foremost, on a battery management system (BMS), which is a combination of software and hardware that controls and protects the battery. It also includes algorithms for measuring the energy remaining in a battery and others for minimizing the energy wasted during charging.

Like lithium-ion cells, lithium-sulfur cells vary slightly from one another. These differences, as well as differences in the cells’ position in the battery pack, may cause some cells to consistently run hotter than others. Over time, those high temperatures slowly degrade performance, so it is important to minimize the power differences from cell to cell. This is usually achieved using a simple balancing solution, in which several resistors are connected in parallel with a cell, all controlled by software in the BMS.

Even when charging and discharging rates are kept within safe limits, any battery may still generate excessive heat. So, typically, a dedicated thermal-management system is necessary. An electric car can use liquid cooling, but in aviation, air cooling is much preferred because it adds less weight. Of course, the battery can be placed at a point where air is naturally moving across the surface of the airplane—perhaps the wing. If necessary, air can be shunted to the battery through ducts. At Oxis, we’re using computational modeling to optimize such cooling. For instance, when we introduced this technique in a project for a small fixed-wing aircraft, it allowed us to design an effective thermal-management system, without which the battery would reach its temperature limits before it was fully discharged.

As noted above, a battery pack is typically arranged with the cells both in parallel and in series. However, there’s more to the arrangement of cells. Of course, the battery is a mission-critical component of an e-plane, so you’ll want redundancy, for enhanced safety. You could, for instance, design the battery in two equal parts, so that if one half fails it can be disconnected, leaving the aircraft with at least enough energy to manage a controlled descent and landing.

Another software component within the BMS is the state-of-charge algorithm. Imagine having to drive a car whose fuel gauge had a measurement error equivalent to 25 percent of the tank’s capacity. You’d never let the indicator drop to 25 percent, just to make sure that the car wouldn’t sputter to a halt. Your practical range would be only three-quarters of the car’s actual range. To avoid such waste, Oxis has put a great emphasis on the development of state-of-charge algorithms.

In a lithium-ion battery you can estimate the charge by simply measuring the voltage, which falls as the energy level does. But it’s not so simple for a lithium-sulfur battery. Recall that in the lithium-sulfur battery, different polysulfides figure in the electrochemical process at different times during charge and discharge. The upshot is that voltage is not a good proxy for the state of charge and, to make things even more complicated, the voltage curve is asymmetrical for charge and for discharge. So the algorithms needed to keep track of the state of charge are much more sophisticated. We developed ours with Cranfield University, in England, using statistical techniques, among them the Kalman filter, as well as neural networks. We can estimate state of charge to an accuracy of a few percent, and we are working to do better still.

All these design choices involve trade-offs, which are different for different airplanes. We vary how we manage these trade-offs in order to tailor our battery designs for three distinct types of aircraft.

  • High-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS) are aircraft that fly at around 15,000 to 20,000 meters. The hope is to be able to fly for months at a time; the current record is 26 days, set in 2018 by the Airbus Zephyr S. By day, these aircraft use solar panels to power the motors and charge the batteries; by night, they fly on battery power. Because the 24-hour charge-and-discharge period demands only a little power, you can design a light battery and thus allow for a large payload. The lightness also makes it easier for such an aircraft to fly far from the equator, where the night lasts longer.
  • Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are being developed as flying taxis. Lilium, in Germany, and Uber Elevate, among others, already have such projects under way. Again, weight is critical, but here the batteries need not only be light but must also be powerful. Oxis has therefore developed two versions of its cell chemistry. The high-energy version is optimized in many aspects of the cell design to minimize weight, but it is limited to relatively low power; it is best suited to HAPS applications. The high-power version weighs more, although still significantly less than a lithium-ion battery of comparable performance; it is well suited for such applications as eVTOL.
  • Light fixed-wing aircraft: The increasing demand for pilots is coming up against the high cost of training them; an all-electric trainer aircraft would dramatically reduce the operation costs. A key factor is longer flight duration, which is enabled by the lighter battery. Bye Aerospace, in Colorado, is one company leading the way in such aircraft. Furthermore, other companies—such as EasyJet, partnered with Wright Electric—are planning all-electric commercial passenger jets for short-haul, 2-hour flights.

Three factors will determine whether lithium-sulfur batteries ultimately succeed or fail. First is the successful integration of the batteries into multiple aircraft types, to prove the principle. Second is the continued refinement of the cell chemistry. Third is the continued reduction in the unit cost. A plus here is that sulfur is about as cheap as materials get, so there’s reason to hope that with volume manufacturing, the unit cost will fall below that of the lithium-ion design, as would be required for commercial success.

Oxis has already produced tens of thousands of cells, and it is currently scaling up two new projects. Right now, it is establishing a manufacturing plant for the production of both the electrolyte and the cathode active material in Port Talbot, Wales. Later, the actual mass production of lithium-sulfur cells will begin on a site that belongs to Mercedes-Benz Brazil, in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

This state-of-the-art plant should be commissioned and operating by 2023. If the economies of scale prove out, and if the demand for electric aircraft rises as we expect, then lithium-sulfur batteries could begin to supplant lithium-ion batteries in this field. And what works in the air ought to work on the ground, as well.

This article appears in the August 2020 print issue as “Ultralight Batteries for Electric Airplanes.”

About the Author

Mark Crittenden is head of battery development and integration at Oxis Energy, in Oxfordshire, U.K.

Link: https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/with-ultralight-lithiumsulfur-batteries-electric-airplanes-could-finally-take-off