U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Friday announced a comprehensive review of design, manufacture and assembly of Boeing Co.'s (BA) 787 Dreamliner in the wake of a series of recent in-service incidents involving the plane. However, the regulators reiterated that the aircraft is safe to fly.
The federal regulators said the review will be structured to provide a broader view of design, manufacturing and assembly of the 787, with an emphasis on the aircraft's electrical power and distribution system.
The review, which will be conducted jointly by a team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors, will also check how the electrical and mechanical systems in the airplane work together.
"The safety of the traveling public is our top priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future."
The probe follows a few incidents this week, including the one in which a battery of a parked 787 of Japan Airlines caught fire at Boston's Logan International Airport on Monday.
The most recent incidents involving the 787 were reported Friday, when Japan's All Nippon Airways said the jet suffered a cracked cockpit window and an oil leak on separate flights in Japan.
"We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We are conducting the review to further ensure that the aircraft meets our high safety standards."
Meanwhile, commenting on the review, Boeing in a statement said that it is "confident in the design and performance of the 787." The company also said "Regular reviews of program and technical progress are an important part of the validation and oversight process that has created today's safe and efficient air transportation system."
"While there is room for improvement. For that reason, today we jointly announced with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration the start of a review of the 787's recent issues and critical systems," Boeing said.
The review does not mean that Boeing has to ground the 787s or stops its production. However, following the review, the regulator could order for new designs or manufacturing procedures based upon its findings, which will cause further delays and cost increases in 787 production.
The 787 Dreamliner made its first commercial flight in late-2011, following a series of production delays that put deliveries more than three years behind schedule.
FAA technical experts logged 200,000 hours of work during the 787 type certification and flew on numerous test flights.
The 787 was touted as Boeing's future, as it is the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner. The 787 was touted as Boeing's future, as it is the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction.
United Airlines, a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL), is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes in service. There are 50 787s in service worldwide.
Boeing shares are currently trading at $75.08, down $2.01 or 2.60.
by RTT Staff Writer
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