Ouch: Dreamliners grounded … lithium battery concerns.

According to Reuters

The FAA has grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

The plane has been plagued by recent electrical problems – raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries.

Engineers and regulators are making checks – primarily to the plane’s batteries and complex electronics systems.


Here’s my take on the situation ….

First, a disclaimer of sorts … Jim McNerney is Boeing’s CEO … I worked with him at McKinsey … in fact, I was his first engagement manager  ,,, stratgey for Electrolux vacuum cleaners – how to sell more over-priced vacs door-to-door … I often half-joke to students about our different career trajectories … he’s making a gazillion dollars running Boeing … I’m making about $8.50 an hour teaching at the crack of dawn Tuesdays & Thursdays.  That said, I wouldn’t trade places with Jim … especially these days.

Second, having been involved in many new product development projects, I learned to always expect glitches.  The key is to quickly ID problems that crop up and remedy them.  Usually, glitches present an opportunity to even better designs.  I can’t even imagine the complexity of the Dreamliner’s development project … lots of interconnected moving pieces.  They’ll get this problem nailed in quick order. Then, you know what?  Something else will crop up.  That’s the way new product development works.

Third, note that the problem has been traced to to power source – the lithium-ion batteries.  You know, the batteries that are going to power the Volt and save the planet.


Bet lots of people in the Obama Administration are hoping that nobody notices and that the problem just goes away.

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One Response to “Ouch: Dreamliners grounded … lithium battery concerns.”

  1. nick chaset Says:

    Prof Homa — Don’t forget that those same Li-ion batteries already power everything from the Macbooks that are ubiquitous in MSB classrooms to complex electronics used by forward deployed soldiers in Afghanistan. Batteries (and electric cars) aren’t the problem, rather it seems most likely that Boeing’s rush to introduce a product that wasn’t ready for primetime is the real culprit.

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