Amid Boeing's 787 Scare, Competitor Elon Musk Takes To The Media

While Boeing's 787 Dreamliner plans are literally going up in flames, Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk has "put it on the line" over at Flightglobal.

A Boeing Competitor

Musk wrote the aviation media site to say that "the [battery] pack architecture supplied to Boeing is inherently unsafe." Boeing, meanwhile, has yet to even confirm the cause of the problem that has ground the planes worldwide.

The famous entrepreneur runs one of a very few Boeing competitors for such lucrative government projects as spaceships and satellites. According to the Wall Street Journal, the chief executive’s SpaceX, which he founded and chairs, stands to rake in $1.6 billion in revenue over the next 5 years. One may wonder: is there a conflict of interest here?

A Lithium-Ion Supporter

Perhaps not, posits Forbes editor David Ewalt. He says that Musk merely wants to see lithium-ion batteries succeed in the marketplace. Ewalt writes that since "both Tesla and SpaceX rely on lithium ion battery packs in their vehicles... It’s in Musk’s interest to help establish the safety and reliability of these systems before customers and investors start to look askew at his own businesses."

On the other hand, Musk's public stance distances himself from the lithium-ion batteries by marketing the differences between the two companies’ approaches. Take the description as told by Flightglobal:

Both Boeing and Tesla use batteries fueled by lithium cobalt oxide, which is among the most energy-dense and flammable chemistries of lithium-ion batteries on the market. While Boeing elected to use a battery with a grouping of eight large cells, Tesla's batteries contain thousands of smaller cells that are independently separated to prevent fire in a single cell from harming the surrounding ones.

A Boeing Helper?

In another email, Musk wrote Reuters to suggest that SpaceX battery packs might be the salve for Boeing's woes. Musk has previously tweeted his support and publicly pledged company resources.

Of course, Boeing has decades of experience in aviation engineering, so perhaps Musk’s offers might be more like the needlings of Larry Ellison into Hewlett-Packard. Who knows? Maybe Ellison and Musk shared some tips on the set of Iron Man 2?

Boeing 787 image courtesy of mirounga / Shutterstock. Elon Musk image courtesy of Phil Stafford / Shutterstock.