I read that last week the Boeing Aircraft Company completed the fixes to the batteries aboard their grounded 787 Dreamliners and are now conducting experiments where they fly the planes through the air to see how well they do with the supposedly fixed batteries. The FAA is monitoring their efforts. Meanwhile, Boeing is also conducting experiments in their laboratories where they simulate battery explosions. The batteries have to blow up okay—that is to say, they have to explode in a way that, if on board a 787 at the time that happens, they do not cause the aircraft to fall down. If all goes well, the Dreamliners, which are on the ground indefinitely until proven safe, could be back to flying by the second week of June.
I wish Boeing well in these endeavors. However, it is my own opinion that ALL commercial aircraft should be grounded indefinitely until the FAA can be sure that they will not fall down. Frankly, I think that is going to be very difficult to prove. Commercial aircraft by their very nature are just an accident waiting to happen. They weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds, and even more filled with luggage and passengers. There is no way commercial aircraft can get up into the air. They are simply too heavy. It is, in fact, something of a miracle every time they do get one up. The FAA has got to put a stop to it.
Indeed, it amazes me that the FAA has not grounded all aircraft by now. It’s not as if the aircraft people aren’t aware of how risky this is. They warn us. They get the prettiest employee they can find to stand up right in front of us at the beginning, after you board the airplane and before they start to roll out to the runway, to tell you about the things that can go wrong and lead to destruction.
The air pressure could malfunction. If it does, masks jump down and there’s this complicated group of pulls and straps you have to fiddle with to get one on.
The engines could stop for one reason or another. Maybe a flock of ducks flies into them and fouls them up. If the engines do stop and the plane is over water, they have these life-preserver jackets you’ll find under your seat that you can put on for when the plane crashes and you’re thrown into the water. And if you’re not thrown into the water, they tell you how to get to the water.
There are EXIT signs here and there over the exit doors. You walk to one. One of the passengers has opened it. (There is a strict training program that certain specially chosen passengers are made to go through before they are allowed to sit in the exit row seats next to the exit doors.) The door comes off. You can see down to the water. A yellow slide inflates, or is supposed to inflate, and then you have to slide down into the sea. Splash.
The electricity could go out. If it does, they’ve got these glowing strips in the rug in the aisle that turn on so you still can see what’s going on and get to where you have to go.
A wing could fall off. They have you buckle your seat belt to deal with this.
The plane could fall down over a big city. They have a pilot who is trained to get it to veer out into the countryside before it crashes.
All these things are possible. But did you ever hear them talk about a battery? You never hear them talk about a battery. That is such a small a problem, they don’t even bring it to your attention when they get your attention after they have you sit down. And yet they’ve grounded one of the best planes ever built because it had a battery problem.
It’s bad enough that they have grounded an airplane because of a battery problem, which nobody thought about ahead of time. And it’s even worse they still don’t talk about possible battery problems ahead of time when they talk about everything else at take-off. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue? Speechwriters still working over the wording? There’s 50 or so of Boeing’s very best airplanes with lithium-ion batteries they’ve now grounded. And they talk about every little thing you have to strap on, buckle to tighten, inflate to blow up, blow through to whistle, but they still don’t mention the batteries. What’s the matter with these people?
They know how unlikely it is that these planes can fly. They can’t fly. They’re too heavy. And yet, every time, the pilots drive them down to the end of the runway, and they rev up these big engines on the wings until they are screaming at the top of their lungs, struggling and straining at the very limit of their strength, and then the pilot shifts into first gear and off the plane goes, rumbling down the runway, which is more than a mile long, going faster and faster and faster—you can see things going by out the window—until the force of it pins you back into your seat, and then they go still faster and faster until, just by the concentrated and combined prayers and mental gymnastics of the pilot and the co-pilot and the crew and all the passengers, this very heavy metal thing somehow gets its front wheels up, and then the whole thing up.
Indeed it IS a miracle, actually levitating over the runway with all its wheels off the ground somehow, at which point its engines, somehow aware of this fact, now rush it even faster and faster and faster until with the greatest effort imaginable, with all the rivets and wires and struts groaning and creaking, it is actually FLYING, flying up into the clouds. Amazing!
This goes against every law of nature I know. Each time they do this, they roll the dice. They’ve warned you about the wings, the doors, the lights, the air, the water, the ground, the engines, the gasoline—no, they don’t talk about whether they have enough gasoline (another scandal)—the ducks, the exit doors, everything, except, well, the batteries, but who cares about the batteries at that point, with all the other problems? There you are. And how are you supposed to get down?
Let’s get these airplanes grounded. Now. Before somebody gets hurt.