Posts Tagged ‘Boeing 787 Dreamliner’

Boeing issues warning: Further icing problems with GE GenX engines on Boeing aircraft

November 23, 2013
GenX 2B GE

GenX 2B GE


Reuters: Boeing advised airlines on Friday about a risk of engine icing problems on its new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes with engines made by General Electric, urging 15 carriers to avoid flying them near high-level thunderstorms. 

The move followed six incidents from April to November involving five 747-8s and one 787 when aircraft powered by GE’s GEnx engines suffered temporary loss of thrust while flying at high altitude. The problem was caused by a build-up of ice crystals, initially just behind the front fan, which ran through the engine, said a GE spokesman, adding that all of the aircraft landed at their planned destinations safely.

Boeing on Friday issued a notice prohibiting the affected aircraft from flying at high attitude within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

Icing problems with GE engines on Boeing’s Dreamliner has led to Japan Airlines pulling the Dreamliner from two international routes.

This comes on top of the icing problems noticed recently on the latest 747 cargo aircraft. A few weeks ago it was reported that a number of the latest long-haul Boeing 747 cargo aircraft fitted with the new GenX series of GE engines experienced engine icing problems when flying in particular cloud conditions at 41,000 feet:

Wall Street JournalIcing Hazards Surface on Boeing’s Newest 747 Jet

Years after aviation-safety experts thought they had eliminated the danger of airliner engines abruptly shutting down from internal ice accumulation, the same airborne hazard is showing up on a new generation of Boeing Co. jumbo jets.

The Chicago plane maker and General Electric Co., whose engines are installed on the biggest and newest Boeing 747 model, are now working together on fixes to prevent ice buildup that can prompt the giant airliner’s engines to temporarily malfunction or even stop working while cruising roughly 7 miles, or 41,000 feet, above the earth.

A GE spokesman said there are proposed software changes—which still need to be tested and then approved by the Federal Aviation Administration—designed to detect the presence of ice crystals in the atmosphere and eject the tiny particles before they form a coating deep inside engines that can melt or break into chunks.

… challenges with the GEnx-2B engines on extra-long 747 aircraft—known as 747-8s—highlight complex and nagging icing hazards that once again are forcing industry leaders and an international research team to scramble for answers. Before the partial government shutdown, according to industry officials, the FAA was moving toward mandating modifications to the 747-8’s computerized engine controls and making plans to warn pilots about susceptibility to internal engine icing while flying over storm-prone regions at roughly 40,000 feet.

Previously, experts believed such icing occurred primarily below 25,000 feet. ….

These cases of icing are different to those normally encountered and which are relatively well understood.

Aviation Week: 

….. The AirBridge Cargo event is the latest in a growing number of engine-icing incidents, which have triggered recent changes in international certification requirements. Unlike traditional engine icing, in which supercooled liquid droplets freeze on impact with exposed outer parts of the engine as the aircraft flies through clouds, engine core ice accretion involves a complex process where ice particles stick to a warm metal surface. These act as a heat sink until the metal surface temperature drops below freezing, thereby forming a location for ice and water (mixed-phase) accretion. The accumulated ice can either block flow into the core or shed into the downstream compressor stages and combustor, causing a surge, roll-back or other malfunction.

Until relatively recently, it was assumed that ice particles would bounce off structures and pass harmlessly through bypass ducts, or melt inside the engine. Now, there is evidence of an environment where a certain combination of water, ice and airflow is susceptible to accreting ice. Like many of the other known core icing events, the ABC 747-8F incident occurred near convective clouds. When incidents were first reported, investigators initially assumed supercooled liquid water, hail or rain were responsible because they had been lifted to high altitudes by updrafts. Yet most events have been recorded above 22,000 ft., which is considered the upper limit for clouds containing supercooled liquid water. ……

To find out exactly what is happening inside the convective systems that most frequently cause core icing, particularly in mid-latitude and tropical regions, an international team plans to conduct the High Ice Water Content (HIWC) test campaign in Darwin, Australia. The team includes NASA, FAA, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Airbus, Boeing, the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Also joining the effort will be the European Union’s High Altitude Ice Crystals (HAIC) project, which will be contributing a specially configured Falcon 20 research aircraft. ……

But now Boeing has warned all its clients who use aircraft with GE’s GenX engines not to fly them near certain kinds of storm clouds. And Japan Airlines whose Boeing 787 Dreamliners are powered by GenX engines has pulled the aircraft from two of its international routes:

Reuters: Japan Airlines (JAL)  said on Saturday it will pull Boeing 787 Dreamliners from two international routes after the U.S. aircraft maker notified it of icing problems in engines produced by General Electric .

Japanese carrier said Boeing notified airlines not to fly aircraft with GE’s GEnx Series engines near storm clouds following a recent incident in which a 747 aircraft experienced a loss of thrust after flying through anvil cloud.

As a result, JAL will replace Dreamliners on its Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore flights with other types of aircraft while also dropping a plan to use 787s for its Tokyo-Sydney route from December.

JAL will continue to fly 787s for other international and domestic routes, which are unlikely to be affected by cumulonimbus cloud for the time being.

Nightmare continues: Panel falls off Air India Dreamliner in flight

October 15, 2013

A new problem every few days for Boeing with their Dreamliner but their share price does not seem to be much affected:

The Hindu: 

An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner. File photo

An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner. File photo

A large panel in the belly of a Bangalore-bound Dreamliner of Air India fell off mid-air, putting about 150 passengers on board at a grave risk, but the aircraft landed safely.

The DGCA is probing the incident which occurred on Saturday when an 8X4 feet panel in the fuselage fell off while the plane was on its way to Bangalore from Delhi, leaving a gaping hole in the cargo hold, official sources said.

There were 148 persons, including the crew, on board flight AI-803 which landed safely at the Bangalore airport, the sources said, adding that the hole was noticed by the ground staff when they came to inspect the aircraft for its return journey.

A spare panel was flown to Bangalore and fitted on the Boeing 787, which was later declared fit to fly. But the return flight was delayed by over nine hours, they said.

Confirming the incident, airline officials said a panel had fallen off but was replaced and the aircraft was cleared for flights.

“Yes, there was a gaping hole. During the normal transit inspection, it was observed. Engineers immediately rectified it,” an AI official said requesting anonymity.

“It was not an emergency. There was no safety problem,” he added.

Besides long-haul international operations, Air India operates the Dreamliners on domestic routes like from Delhi to Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.


From a sublime “Dreamliner” to the ridiculous

October 10, 2013

Nightmares (for Boeing) are made of this:

ReutersJapan Airlines Co was forced to turn around its Tokyo-bound flight from Moscow on Thursday due to a problem in the Boeing 787 jet’s lavatory, a spokesman for the Japanese carrier said. … 

JAL spokesman Takuya Shimoguchi said the toilet malfunction on the flight from Moscow was likely caused by an electronic glitch. The airline was working on repairs on the ground, he added.

The flight, carrying 141 passengers, departed Moscow on Wednesday evening and returned after about five hours, he said.

Shares in JAL, which made headlines this week by signing with Boeing rival Airbus for the next generation of long-haul jets, were up 2.1 percent on Thursday morning, outperforming the broader market.

Updated 10th October:


Japan Airlines (JAL) says it has turned around two of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft during flights due to technical problems.

On one plane one of the two anti-ice systems, which prevent ice building up around the engine, failed.

Meanwhile, an electrical glitch made six toilets unusable on another flight.

These are the latest technical issues to hit the Dreamliner, which saw the entire fleet being grounded earlier this year following battery problems.

More bad dreams for Boeing as Polish LOT demands compensation for Dreamliner problems

September 29, 2013

Yesterday it was an airline sending an aircraft back to Boeing. Today Polish airlines LOT has warned Boeing to settle compensation claims by year-end or face legal action.


A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Poland’s LOT  airline had to land unexpectedly in Iceland on Sunday due to a fault in its air identification system, a spokeswoman for the airline said on Sunday.

The plane was flying from Toronto to Warsaw when it was forced to land at the island’s Keflavik airport.

“The aircraft had to land due to an air identification system fault. The Norwegian authorities have refused permission to fly over its territory, even though other countries gave permission to fly over theirs,” Barbara Pijanowska-Kuras said. …

For state-owned LOT, which has struggled for years with huge operating losses, the incident adds to a list of problems with the Dreamliners. Last week it had had to delay flights after check-ups showed two planes lacked gas filters.

LOT is demanding from Boeing compensation for lost revenue and has given Boeing time until the end of the year to settle on compensation over faults or face court action.

Norwegian returns a Dreamliner to Boeing to be fixed

September 28, 2013

I suppose it must be under guarantee. It is further publicity that Boeing could well do without. Boeing have been asked to take back one of Norwegian’s two Dreamliners currently stuck in Bangkok with a hydraulic pump failure. Boeing will carry out the repairs in Stockholm. But what must be particularly galling for Boeing is that Norwegian is leasing an Airbus A340 while the Dreamliner is being fixed. No doubt the leasing cost will be billed to Boeing but EADS will be pleased that the Airbus has the better perception of reliability.

The Dreamliner runs the risk of becoming  a Nightmareliner if Boeing cannot get the plane away from its many “teething” troubles.

Boeing 787-8JP Dreamliner

Norwegians first Dreamliner Air Team Images : Photo by Lee A. Karas

Boeing 787-8JP Dreamliner

Manufacturer: Boeing   Type/Model: 787-8 Dreamliner   Registration: LN-BKA   Colour Scheme: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Location: Everett, United States  Taken By: Lee A. Karas   Date Taken: 3rd April 2013
Reuters: Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle  is returning one of its brand new Dreamliners to Boeing demanding repairs after the jet has suffered repeated breakdowns, it said on Saturday.Norwegian Air Shuttle will instead lease an Airbus A340 from HiFly to keep its long-haul business going and will not take back the Boeing 787 Dreamliner until it is more reliable, a spokesman said.“The aircraft’s reliability is simply not acceptable, our passengers cannot live with this kind of performance,” spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told Reuters.“We are returning the aircraft to Boeing to improve its reliability.” ….Norwegian launched long-haul operations this year and hoped to capitalize on Dreamliner’s lower operating cost as the jet’s lighter-weight engines promised a 20 percent savings on fuel.

But its first two Dreamliners, part of a planned fleet of eight, broke down over half a dozen times in September, forcing it to lease back-up planes on short notice or cancel flights.

Norwegian summoned Boeing’s management this week and the aircraft manufacturer promised to locate spare parts centers at all of the airline’s long-haul destinations and send a team of engineers to the Nordics to monitor the planes.

The aircraft that will be returned is still stuck in Bangkok after a hydraulic pump failure this week and will be flown back to Stockholm where Boeing will carry out the work.

Boeing’s three-layered fix for the Dreamliner batteries approved for testing

March 16, 2013

Boeing’s planned fix for the Dreamliner’s lithium-ion battery has been approved by the FAA and while this is only approval of the plan it at least represents the start of the process to get the Dreamliner back into the air. The FAA approval will allow two Dreamliners to return to the air to test various aspects of the proposed fix. Results from both in-flight and laboratory tests will have to be evaluated to obtain the new certifications and approvals necessary to get back into the air.

NY Times: The F.A.A. could still demand changes if problems develop in the laboratory and flight tests. While Boeing hopes to begin fitting its redesigned batteries in the grounded 787 fleet by mid- to late April and resume commercial flights quickly after that, government officials are not sure the process will move that fast. …

….. the tests would subject the battery to the most extreme conditions it was likely to face and determine if the case could withstand a battery explosion. The tests will include bursts of power to put stress on the battery and check its flammability as well as how it performs in hot weather.

The F.A.A. has also approved limited test flights for two aircraft. One plane will test the old battery, while the other will test how the new system performs under normal flight conditions. The flight tests will begin within a week.

The agency will approve the redesign only if the company successfully completes all required tests and analyses. The F.A.A. said it was continuing a review of the 787’s design, production and manufacturing.

But there is a downside. The fixes being introduced will increase the weight of the aircraft by 150 lbs which almost nullifies the advantage gained by using the lighter lithium-ion batteries in the first place. The fuel efficiency gains – at least those due to the lighter battery – will no longer be available and no doubt customers will want compensation for this. An extra 150 lbs is just about equivalent to one passenger and compensation claims could also be for the equivalent of one passenger less for every commercial flight through the life of the aircraft. This would be in addition to any compensation claims for losses suffered during and because of the grounding  and for delivery delays.

The three-layered approach that Boeing is taking consists of

  1. preventing a fire within any individual battery cell,
  2. preventing the fire from spreading to other cells in the event that a fire does occur, and
  3. preventing the fire from spreading or impacting anything outside the battery enclosure in the event that the fire does spread to multiple cells
Dreamliner Battery Fix (via Aviation Week, Credit Boeing)

Dreamliner Battery Fix (via Aviation Week, Credit Boeing)

The Dreamliner still has a way to go to complete all the testing and while Boeing is talking about “weeks rather than months”, it seems unlikely that the planes will be released for commercial flying before June.

Aviation Week: Among the tougher tests to be conducted will be an evaluation of the containment system’s ability to withstand a deliberately induced thermal runaway. This self-propagating phenomenon was cited by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its March 7 interim report on the first battery failure on a Japan Airlines 787 in early January. Although not identifying a specific cause, the report described several shortcomings in both the baseline battery system design and the original means of testing and certification of the device.

The NTSB has announced plans to hold a forum and investigative hearing in April to review the battery’s technology, safety and process used in its certification. The agency’s investigation found—among other things—no record of the final production-standard charging system having been tested with the actual GS Yuasa-made battery. According to the NTSB report, Securiplane, the charging system developer, tested the unit with a simulated electric load instead of an actual battery. The company apparently took this precaution after having earlier suffered a fire at its facility during battery testing.

The three layers of the Boeing fix are structured as below:

1. The first layer of improvements is taking place during the manufacture of the batteries in Japan. Boeing teamed with Thales, the provider of the integrated power conversion system, and battery maker GS Yuasa to develop and institute enhanced production standards and tests to further reduce any possibility for variation in the production of the individual cells as well as the overall battery.  … Four new or revised tests have been added to screen cell production, which now includes 10 distinct tests. Each cell will go through more rigorous testing in the month following its manufacture including a 14-day test during which readings of discharge rates are being taken every hour. This new procedure started in early February and the first cells through the process are already complete. There are more than a dozen production acceptance tests that must be completed for each battery. Boeing, Thales and GS Yuasa have also decided to narrow the acceptable level of charge for the battery, both by lowering the highest charge allowed and raising the lower level allowed for discharge. Two pieces of equipment in the battery system – the battery monitoring unit and the charger are being redesigned to the narrower definition. The battery charger will also be adapted to soften the charging cycle to put less stress on the battery during charging.

2. Changes inside the battery will help to reduce the chances of a battery fault developing and help to further isolate any fault that does occur so that it won’t cause issues with other parts of the battery. To better insulate each of the cells in the battery from one another and from the battery box, two kinds of insulation will be added. An electrical insulator is being wrapped around each battery cell to electrically isolate cells from each other and from the battery case, even in the event of a failure. Electrical and thermal insulation installed above, below and between the cells will help keep the heat of the cells from impacting each other. Wire sleeving and the wiring inside the battery will be upgraded to be more resistant to heat and chafing and new fasteners will attach the metallic bars that connect the eight cells of the battery. These fasteners include a locking mechanism. Finally, a set of changes is being made to the battery case that contains the battery cells and the battery management unit. Small holes at the bottom will allow moisture to drain away from the battery and larger holes on the sides will allow a failed battery to vent with less impact to other parts of the battery.

3. The battery case will sit in a new enclosure made of stainless steel. This enclosure will isolate the battery from the rest of the equipment in the electronic equipment bays. It also will ensure there can be no fire inside the enclosure, thus adding another layer of protection to the battery system. The enclosure features a direct vent to carry battery vapors outside the airplane. New titanium fixtures are being installed in the electronics equipment bays to ensure the housing is properly supported. “Our first lines of improvements, the manufacturing tests and operations improvements, significantly reduce the likelihood of a battery failure. The second line of improvements, changes to the battery, helps stop an event and minimize the effect of a failure within the battery if it does occur. And the third line of improvements, the addition of the new enclosure, isolates the battery so that even if all the cells vent, there is no fire in the enclosure and there is no significant impact to the airplane,” said Sinnett.

Two aircraft will be used for the testing:

Flight tests of the prototype revised battery containment system will be conducted using Line No. 86, an aircraft designated for LOT Polish Airlines. Aviation Week was the first to report this same aircraft being previously used for ground tests of the battery system in mid-February (AW&ST Feb. 18, p. 32). The modified battery has also been installed in test aircraft ZA005, though Boeing says this is to allow testing to resume of the planned General Electric GEnx performance improvement package (PIP) II engine upgrade. The FAA says flight tests will validate instrumentation for the battery and testing its enclosure in addition to improvements for other systems.

Airbus invokes “Plan B” while Dreamliner remains grounded till the summer

February 20, 2013

The Boeing Dreamliner which was grounded globally on January 16th will remain grounded at least till the end of March and possibly till the summer. United Airlines has removed the Dreamliner from all its schedules till March 30th. But LOT Polish Airlines which flies Boeing 767’s and was hoping for these to be replaced by 5 Dreamliners at the end of March has extended the lease for the 767’s (apparently at Boeing’s insistence) for a further 6 months till October 2013.

All Nippon Airways, which has 17 Dreamliners in its fleet says it has lost 15.4 million of sales revenues just in January. But ANA has kept its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March unchanged at about $44 million.

All Nippon has not asked Boeing for compensation linked to the grounded 787s but will discuss the issue once the total financial effect is more clear, said the executive vice president, Kiyoshi Tonomoto, according to Reuters.

The battery problem has yet to be resolved but there was further evidence that the cells are prone to overheating and thermal runaways.

Bangkok Post: On January 16, the 50 Dreamliners in service around the world were grounded after a battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane parked in Boston, and battery smoke on an All Nippon Airways flight forced an emergency landing. On Tuesday, a Japanese safety board official said that investigators found a battery on the ANA flight that initially was believed to be intact had also been damaged. Detailed examination of the auxiliary power unit battery revealed that two of its eight cells were misshapen.

One market-matching family

The Airbus A350 family . image

In the meantime Airbus has invoked Plan B and decided to drop the lithium-ion batteries for the A 350 so as not to jeopardise the intoduction of the aircraft in 2014. With the Dreamliner delays and teething problems, Airbus has a golden opportinity to break into the Dreamliner market with a timely introduction of the A350.

Reuters:  Airbus has dropped lithium-ion batteries of the type that forced the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and will use traditional nickel-cadmium batteries in its crucially important next passenger jet, the A350.

The European planemaker said on Friday it had taken the decision to adopt the batteries used on existing models such as the A380 superjumbo in order to prevent delays in the A350’s entry to service next year. ….. 

“We want to mature the lithium-ion technology but we are making this decision today to protect the A350’s entry-into-service schedule,” an Airbus spokeswoman said. ….

The A350 is due to enter service in the second half of 2014 compared with an initial target of 2012 when it was launched as Europe’s answer to the lightweight 787 Dreamliner. ….

….. Airbus will use the lithium-ion batteries for a maiden flight in mid-year and early flight trials but switch to traditional batteries in time for certification and delivery. …

The lithium-ion battery industry is concerned but not unduly so, since the market for aircraft batteries is just a tiny portion of their market.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner story gets green and murky

January 24, 2013

What seemed to be “normal” teething problems with a new aircraft now seems to be something more. Two stories this week suggest that

  1. pressure from the green lobbies pushed Boeing into using inherently unsafe, large, lithium-ion batteries long before the technology was ready for such use, and
  2. the battery chargers used for charging the lithium-ion batteries did not meet product specifications and were prone to short-circuiting but were shipped anyway to Boeing

If these stories have any substance, Boeing could be forced to replace the lithium-ion batteries with alternative batteries. The consequences could be that that weight will increase and/or the batteries will not be rechargeable (an operating cost increase). Moving away from lithium-ion should not therefore be technically too difficult or prohibitive as far as cost is concerned. Dealing with the compensation to airlines for the grounding of 50 of their aircraft and for an indeterminate length of time could be the main economic hit for Boeing. There will, of course, be a cost for redesigning a “fix” and introducing the fix into the entire fleet but that should not be catastrophic. What may be more significant in the long run will be the loss of customer confidence and the potential loss of sales (or delay of sales) which would help Airbus to improve its competitive position.

Washington Examiner:

Boeing Dreamliner fires spark new doubts about a green energy technology

…. Technologists and safety experts had long warned of problems with the lithium ion battery when in 2009 the president began betting billions of tax dollars that it should be the green power of choice for cars, trucks, and even aircraft. …. Small lithium ion batteries are widely used in consumer electronics, but powering vehicles like a car or an aircraft is a much greater challenge. The 787, for example, has to generate 1.5 megawatts of electrical power, enough to light up several hundred homes. …. 

The problem, according to the MIT Technology Review, is that “because the electrolyte materials used are flammable, no lithium-ion batteries are completely safe.” And last April, the National Fire Protection Association warned that “as lithium-ion battery use increases, so do the concerns related to the fire-safety hazards of these devices.” Some experts believe the batteries have been oversold to the public. “Lithium ion batteries just won’t do the trick in the kind of mass vehicle applications that the environmental community is pushing for,” said Jon Entine, founder of ESG Media Metrics, a Cincinnati-based environmental consulting firm. “It’s kind of glib environmentalism or kind of enviro-romanticism,” said Entine, who is also a senior fellow at George Mason University’s Center for Health and Risk.

…. Before the Dreamliner’s troubles, a Chevrolet Volt caught fire during its crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May 2011. The agency gave the Volt a clean bill of health after an investigation. Then last year, electric truck manufacturer Smith Electric Vehicles warned potential investors that the lithium ion batteries “on rare occasions have been observed to catch fire or vent smoke and flames” in the firm’s prototype military trucks.

Even in the smaller consumer electronics applications, lithium ion battery fires were reported in Apple and Dell laptop computers in 2005 and 2006.


U.S. NTSB reviewing whistleblower claims in 787 case

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is looking at issues raised by more than one whistleblower as it investigates battery failures that have grounded the global fleet of 50 Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners for a week.

Michael Leon, one of the whistleblowers, said he spoke with an NTSB investigator this week and gave him extensive materials about his claim that he was fired around six years ago for raising safety concerns about Securaplane Technologies Inc., an Arizona company that makes chargers for the highly flammable lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the probe. In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday and in earlier court papers, Leon said Securaplane was rushing to ship chargers that by his assessment did not conform to specifications and could have malfunctioned. …..

…… Securaplane hired Leon as a senior engineering technician in 2004, the same year it won the contract to work on the 787 parts. The company, which was taken over by Meggitt in April 2011, makes three important battery-related systems for the 787 as a subcontractor to France’s Thales SA .

The lithium-ion battery is made by Japan’s GS Yuasa Corp, while Thales is responsible for electric power conversion on the 787, the world’s newest and most electricity-driven airliner. The auxiliary power unit (APU), which powers the airplane’s systems when it is on the ground, is built by a unit of United Technologies Corp.

The Securaplane spokeswoman declined to give details about the value of the company’s contract with Thales for work on the 787, saying those details were confidential. She said she was not aware of any other whistleblower case filed by a Meggitt or Securaplane employee.

Securaplane said it makes two battery charging units used on the 787, one for the APU battery in an aft bay, and one for the main ship battery used in a forward bay, which provides backup power for flight critical controls. …

…… Leon said he refused to ship chargers that he believed had short-circuits, but company officials told him they needed to rush out the orders or risk losing the contract with Thales.

24 aircraft grounded as persistent teething problems with Boeing 787 Dreamliner are impacting operations

January 16, 2013


Now all Boeing Dreamliners in US and India have also been grounded indefinitely. Boeing’s ongoing dispute with unions will not make matters easier. This could be an expensive delay for Boeing.


Japanese airlines are grounding all their Boeing 787 Dreamliners for inspection: ANA are grounding 17 aircraft and JAL is grounding a further 5 to add to the 2 already undergoing inspections. Last week the Federal Aviation Authority ordered a review of the design procedures as well as the manufacturing processes for the Dreamliner but they stopped short of ordering any general grounding of the aircraft. But this review comes just 15 months after the plane was certified by the FAA which is not very usual. The Japanese Transport Ministry has also set up a team to review the design and manufacture of the Dreamliner. Official government reviews are a major setback for airline operations since it shifts the onus onto the airlines and the manufacturer. They now have the daunting task of  “proving a negative” – of “proving” that nothing can occur –  before operating “as normal.

Air India has 6 Dreamliners but so far neither the airline nor the Indian Government have grounded any planes but are following the lead of the US authorities. The other airlines with the 787 in operation are Ethiopian Airlines, LAN Airlines, LOT, Qatar Airways and United Airlines. In all Boeing has some 850  Dreamliners on order.

So far the problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are system problems (electrical and fuel systems) and there is nothing to suggest that the use of composite materials for the  fuselage or that any other structural issues are of concern. But, of course, structural problems take longer to show up.

This baby is going to give Boeing many more sleepless nights.

Dreamliner still having electrical teething problems as fire breaks out in empty JAL aircraft

January 8, 2013

UPDATE! 9th January

(Reuters) – Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner jet suffered a third mishap in as many days on Wednesday, heightening safety concerns after a string of setbacks for the new aircraft.


Some 800 Boeing Dreamliners have been ordered so far and the first Dreamliner entered commercial operation with ANA in late 2011. That was about 3 years later than planned following a string of production issues. The Dreamliner has had a number of teething problems – mainly with electrical systems. Qatar Airways had to correct electrical faults and a United Air flight had to make an emergency landing  because of power failure. The FAA had also found some faults with the installation of the fuel system and had called for all Dreamliners to be inspected. Now a JAL aircraft has had a battery fire after landing at Boston – but there were no passengers on board at the time.

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet aircraft is surrounded by emergency vehicles while parked at Logan International Airport in Boston. AP/Stephan Savoia

But the problems experienced so far do not seem to be anything extraordinary compared  to what could be expected with a brand new aircraft. The Dreamliner has not – unlike the Airbus A380 – experienced any serious engine problems so far. Another year of flying will probably see all the initial bugs ironed out. Then it will probably take another 5 or 6 years before any generic design issues – due to materials choices for example – start showing up.

NY Times:  A Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft with no passengers on board caught fire at Logan International Airport in Boston on Monday when a battery in its auxiliary electrical system exploded, officials said.

A mechanic inspecting the Japan Airlines jet discovered smoke in the cockpit while performing a routine postflight inspection and reported it to airport authorities around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, said Bob Donahue, the fire chief of the Massachusetts Port Authority.

A fire crew responded and determined that a battery used to power the plane’s electrical systems when the engines are not running had exploded, Chief Donahue said. The mechanic was the only person on board the plane when the smoke was discovered, and no one was hurt by the fire, he added. ….

…… The 787 relies heavily on electrical power to drive onboard systems that in other jet models are run by air pressure generated by the engines. It also experienced electrical problems during testing that prompted a redesign.

The Dreamliner has experienced a string of problems with its electrical systems in recent weeks. On Dec. 4, a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark made an emergency landing after it appeared that one of its power generators had failed.

On Dec. 13, Qatar Airways said it had grounded one of its three 787 jets because of the same problem United experienced. On Dec. 17, United said that a second 787 in its fleet had developed electrical problems.

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