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FEATURE NEWS

FEDERAL REGULATORS TO UNDERTAKE REVIEW OF BOEING 787 ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS
January 11, 2013




Boeing 787 Dreamliner built for All Nippon Airways. Photo: All Nippon Airways.
(NATIONAL) -- The Boeing company, which has battled numerous production problems and delays in getting the new, highly sophisticated 787 Dreamliner jet to market now has an additional challenge to deal with.

All Nippon Airlines of Japan has reported safety incidents involving the 787 on two domestic flights.

Cracks appeared Friday in the cockpit window of a 787 Dreamliner heading from Tokyo to Matsuyama, in southern Japan.

The New York Times reported that flight NH585, which was carrying 237 passengers and nine crew members, left Haneda Airport in Tokyo at 9:35 a.m. local time and landed safely. No one was injured. The return flight, NH590, which had been due to leave just before midday, was canceled to allow for the window to be replaced.

The Times report said this was the third time that cracks had appeared in the windshield of one of the seventeen 787s operated by A.N.A.; the other two incidents happened last year.

However a spokesman for ANA said the cracks did not endanger the aircraft and that these types of cracks are not unique to the Boeing plane.

The Times quoted an ANA spokesman as saying the airline does not see the crack issue as a sign of a “fundamental problem.”

This was the third time that cracks had appeared in the windshield of one of the 787s operated by A.N.A.; the other two incidents happened last year.

The latest two cracking problems came just days after several other incidents involving the 787.

On Wednesday, All Nippon canceled a domestic 787 flight after an onboard computer mistakenly showed problems with the aircraft’s brakes and on Tuesday a fuel leak forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to return to its gate minutes before taking off from Boston.

Monday, an electrical fire broke out on another 787 also operated by Japan Airlines. This plane was parked on the ground in Boston.

The Seattle Times reported Thursday that Federal regulators are launching a major review of the safety of the 787 Dreamliner's electrical systems and that the review will be announced Friday at a news conference led by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Michael Huerta.

The Times quoted two unidentified people with knowledge of the matter as the basis for the report which called the pending review “unusual and sweeping,” and is to be focused both on the systems' design and on the manufacturing of the jet’s components.

The report also says the move to review the design of the plane and its electrical systems comes after the battery fire Monday aboard a parked Dreamliner in Boston, which was described as “a serious event that followed a series of smaller incidents over six months involving faults in the jet's electrical panels.”

The story quotes a person familiar with the situation as saying, "Nothing suggests there is an imminent safety issue…but pretty much all the recent incidents have involved the electrical systems, so it's prudent to take a look."

And the New York Times report quotes a Japanese Transport Ministry official as saying “Even considering that the 787 is a new aircraft, which tends to come with initial glitches, we are not seeing a higher incidence of reported problems compared to other aircraft.”

Boeing has to date delivered 50 of the sophisticated Dreamliners to airlines.

The Dreamliner is a radical new design for a modern jet transport plane and a stark departure from the past in jetliner construction. It uses many new materials, technologies and systems, particularly electrical systems.





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