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Federal investigators beef up scrutiny of 787 fire Boeing shares fall 46

by Joshua Freed, The Associated Press Posted Jan 8, 2013 6:03 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Federal investigators beef up scrutiny of 787 fire; Boeing shares fall 4.6 per cent in 2 days MINNEAPOLIS – Federal safety investigators intensified their scrutiny of a Monday fire aboard a Boeing 787 as concerned investors sold shares in the aircraft maker for a second day.Boeing on Tuesday confirmed that the fire aboard a Japan Airlines plane appeared to have started in a battery pack for the plane’s auxiliary power unit.The National Transportation Safety Board described the fire damage to the battery as “severe,” and said it is sending two more investigators to examine the Japan Airlines plane. It also formed investigative groups to look at the plane’s electrical systems as well as the fire response.Boeing has a lot riding on the 787. The long-range jet promises a smoother travel experience and is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than older models. After years of delays, Boeing has now delivered 49 of the planes, with almost 800 more on order.The fire on Monday happened on the ground at Boston Logan International Airport, with no passengers on board. But in-flight fires can be catastrophic, so the matter is getting close scrutiny by aviation authorities.Interest is especially high in this fire because of indications that lithium batteries — which generally have not been used on large planes before the 787 — can burn very hot, with fires that are difficult to put out. The NTSB said it took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the fire near the back of the plane.JAL spokeswoman Carol Anderson said the airline inspected its 787s after the fire. She declined to discuss the results, but noted that no schedule changes were made as a result of the inspections.United Airlines said it inspected its six 787s overnight. A spokeswoman would not say what the inspections found. The Wall Street Journal reported that the inspections found an improperly installed bundle of wires connected to the same battery that burned on the on the JAL plane.Electrical problems have been the 787’s nemesis.Last month, a United Airlines 787 flying from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, diverted to New Orleans because of an electrical problem with a power distribution panel. Last week, United said it would delay the start of 787 flights from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria because it wanted to “improve the reliability of the aircraft.”In November 2010, a test flight had to make an emergency landing after an in-flight electrical fire. The fire delayed flight tests for several weeks while Boeing investigated.Boeing said the fire on Monday appears to be unrelated to previous electrical problems on the 787.“Nothing that we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events,” Boeing said in a prepared statement. Those earlier problems involved power panels elsewhere in a rear bay for electrical equipment. Boeing also said it “would be premature to discuss additional details at this stage” of the investigation.Boeing said it has shared information about the prior events with the NTSB.Shares of Chicago-based Boeing have fallen 4.6 per cent since the fire was reported, wiping out almost $2.7 billion of the company’s value. On Tuesday they fell $2, or 2.6 per cent, to close at $74.13.Investors may have been unnerved by the fire after it appeared that the mechanical and manufacturing kinks with the 787 had been worked out.They may have also reacted to another 787 issue on Tuesday. A different Japan Airlines 787 at Logan had to be towed back to the gate after spilling 40 gallons (150 litres) of jet fuel. The flight was re-scheduled for later in the day. read more

2 parties seemingly mismatched spending bosses team to make Washington work for

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press Posted Jun 17, 2014 3:11 pm MDT 2 parties’ seemingly mismatched spending bosses team to make Washington work for a change WASHINGTON – On the face of it, one of the most powerful pairings in Washington is a hopeless mismatch — a former social worker and liberal Democrat from Baltimore’s working-class Fells Point neighbourhood and an old-school, cigar-chomping GOP conservative raised in a dry county in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.But in a bitterly divided Congress, the odd couple of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Harold Rogers is a rare bipartisan success story.Mikulski and Rogers are chiefly responsible for divvying up $1 trillion in federal spending as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of the same committee in the House. While their personal backgrounds could hardly be more different, their operating styles are remarkably similar.Both are pragmatists in a Congress littered with ideologues. Neither minces words or tolerates foolishness. Both prefer deal-making to speechifying. And each understands that in order to strike a deal the other side needs to claim some wins.“Hal is a conservative but he is not a hard-headed ideologue. He’s a realist,” said former Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wis. “He’s good at saying, ‘Look, I’ll level with you. This is what I can do and this is what I can’t do.’”Mikulski has a reputation for toughness though her once-fearsome temper seems to have mellowed in recent years. “Her BS quotient is very, very low. She doesn’t tolerate BS and she doesn’t dish it out,” Obey said. “She is very pragmatic, very hard-nosed.”Rogers and Mikulski face an enormously difficult task: advancing 12 spending bills setting the annual operating budgets for federal agencies and most government programs, ranging from funding the armed forces and overseas military operations to air traffic control, the national parks and forecasting the weather.House and Senate leaders used to give great deference to the committees but their standing has slipped of late. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was a longtime Appropriations Committee insider but has usually given short shrift to the panel’s pleas for floor time to debate its bills. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, barely hid his disdain for the panel’s parochial, clubby ways during his first two decades in the House. One of his first acts as speaker was to impose a ban on popular home-district pet projects known as earmarks.The result is that many lawmakers have less reason to vote for spending bills. The appropriations process is a challenge in good years. Amid broader battles over taxes and whether to expand or shrink the government, it has been derailed in recent ones.Boehner, for example, sided with the GOP’s tea party wing in 2013 and saddled Rogers with a budget outline that pleased conservatives but shortchanged domestic programs and doomed appropriators to failure last summer. Rogers could only watch as tea party forces steamrolled House leaders into a government shutdown last fall.What eventually came out of it was a two-year budget deal that paved the way for Rogers and Mikulski to get the process back on track. In January they accomplished several months’ worth of work in a few weeks, negotiating and winning passage of a $1.1 trillion catchall spending bill for 2014.Jim Dyer, a former Republican staff director for House appropriators, said Rogers and Mikulski were under a lot of pressure to reach a deal that could pass both houses. “If they had failed, people would have thrown the last shovel of dirt on appropriations,” Dyer said. “Now, what you have is … the only show in town currently working well — and these two people deserve the credit.”With a strengthened hand and a common spending ceiling for 2015, the two appropriations chairmen are off to a promising start, handling this year’s spending bills the old-fashioned way, with open debate and amendments instead of waiting until year’s end and cobbling together one massive omnibus bill behind closed doors.Mikulski first bill was slated to hit the Senate floor Tuesday — a hybrid Mikulski cobbled together from three measures funding the departments of Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture. The Senate is likely to spend most of two weeks on it. The House is scheduled to open debate Wednesday on Rogers’ spending bill for the Pentagon.“She’s determined to get the train back on track with appropriations, as am I,” Rogers said of Mikulski. “To do that you have to understand the other side’s point of view and perspective and needs, politically to get the bills passed on the floors of both bodies.”Mikulski says her approach is “to focus with civility and courtesy. Old school values. Don’t do surprises or stunts and negotiate directly and not through the press.”Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell describes Mikulski as forceful and results oriented. “I think she’s terrific.”“She is no nonsense … and that really gives her the credibility to work with her colleagues that other people wish they had,” said former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.Mikulski is more engaging and approachable than her predecessors as appropriations chairman, the late Sens. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. She’s spent decades honing relationships with members of both parties, learning their needs and end goals.“She knows that if you know somebody and what they want you can help them be successful. And when you help people be successful, Republicans or Democrats, that’s how you move bills,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a Mikulski protege. read more