FAA Plans Comprehensive Review of Boeing's Dreamliner Plane after Several Incidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the FAA will conduct a comprehensive review of the “critical systems” of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner plane after the much touted and long-delayed aircraft racked up a series of troubling incidents in the past week alone. This review will include an examination of everything from “design, manufacture and assembly.”

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Dreamliner Will Not be Grounded

The new head of the FAA, Michael Huerta said, “We are confident that the aircraft is safe” and the government agency made no mention of grounding any 787s. United, the only U.S. carrier currently flying the Dreamliner reportedly has no such plans either. As air travel analyst Rick Seaney told FareCompare, “Any airline would be crazy to put an aircraft in the air that they didn’t believe was absolutely safe,” especially such a high profile plane.

However, as DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said they hope to get to the root causes of the recent incidents – with special emphasis on the 787’s electrical power and distribution system – to determine what happened so they can prevent such glitches from occurring in the future.

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Four Recent Dreamliner Glitches

There were four highly publicized problems in the past five days:

  • Jan. 7: An empty, parked Japan Airlines 787 suffers an electrical fire at Boston’s Logan Airport
  • Jan. 8: A fuel leak on a JAL Dreamliner forces a flight cancelation at Logan
  • Jan. 11: A crack develops in a cockpit window of a 787 during an All Nippon Airways flight
  • Jan. 11: An oil leak is discovered on an All Nippon 787 at Miyazaki airport

It’s important to note that no one was injured in any of these incidents.

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Analysts: New Planes Have Glitches

Most analysts seem to agree that new aircraft often suffer through minor glitches or growing pains and point to initial problems with the 747 in 1970 and more recent snafus that occurred on the massive Airbus A380 including cracks on wings. And as one analyst pointed out, newer airplanes are “safer than ever.”

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Published: January 11, 2013