I have serious doubts as to whether there is a timely solution for Boeing to their battery problem. Batteries are dangerous as we all have probably experienced personally (acid leaking in flashlight batteries and elsewhere, my apple laptop lithium battery almost exploding - it expanded by a good 3/8 to 1/2 inches while in the laptop one day). And of course the airlines' recent experience with the 787 batteries.
1. How does one know whether a battery has dendrites forming inside that could short circuit the battery? How does one inspect for this without ripping the battery apart and destroying it?
2. Dendrites can form at ANY time, or maybe they even may form all the time - except that they do not always grow enough to cause a short circuit. If that is the case, how can one have a fail safe lithium battery on a plane? Sure, you could design a system to electrically isolate a short-circuited battery, but who wants ANY such battery on a plane. There is no way that the FAA will let Boeing put batteries on a plane that have the potential to catch fire, even if they can be isolated. What then if the isolation system fails. Or what if the battery fails massively and catches fire in an instant even though the isolation system took the battery off the power grid. If dendrites form all the time in a battery, one is asking for serious serious trouble. That means any and every battery could go haywire at any time. Some could just heat up a bit. Some could simply explode.
3. It takes a long time for dendrites to form in the battery. So, if that is the case, how do your "test" a battery. If it takes a battery months or years to develop the problem, for how many months and years do you have to look at at reasonable sample of batteries to figure out the exact problem and solution. And every time you look inside the battery, you destroy it making it useless for further ongoing observation and testing. You would probably have to test a huge number of batteries, maybe more than one thousand. And they would all have to be testing in active flights! How is that going to happen?
4. Even if a reasonable solution for battery isolation or change were found, it is going to have to be tested to an enormous level of detail. This probably means tons of test flights - and I do not mean 50 to 100.
5. Maybe Boeing has to use a different non-lithium battery or redesign the whole electrical plant on the plane. That will take a huge amount of time and also new testing. Given the situation, any new testing will be lengthy and rigorous - which means extensive delays in the 787 delivery schedule, delivery penalties, cancelled orders, etc.
I just do not see any good way out of this for Boeing. I bet my bottom dollar that Boeing , in addition to doing current investigative work, has engineers dusting off either prior battery/electrical plant designs or are working on completely new system - in case a full redesign is required.
Wouldn't you think by now BA would announce "a walk through plan" to correct this very serious electrical/battery problem. Its as if BA management is no closer to a solution today, then they were four weeks ago. The longer things go with silence from BA senior officials the more likely the 787 will be grounded for most of 2013.