Story Summary

Boeing 787 trouble

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane after multiple emergency landings across the world were required. Japanese and French aviation officials also have launched investigations.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 9 updates

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Photo: Boeing Co.)

SEATTLE — The Boeing Co. confirmed Friday that a manufacturing problem overseas may have led to hairline cracks in the wings of about 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners still in production, and that there may be delays in deliveries.

It said it is confident, however, that there are no cracks in the wings of 787s currently being flown.

“We have been notified by our supplier Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that a change in their manufacturing process may have led to hairline cracks in a limited number of shear ties on a wing rib in the 787. This condition may be present in a limited number of airplanes still in production,” Boeing said in a written statement Friday.

“We are confident that the condition does not exist in the in-service fleet. We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it, and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplanes. We are addressing affected airplanes as required. … The condition may be present on approximately 40 airplanes. The affected areas are very small and the time required to address the issue will vary between one and two weeks. There may be some delays in deliveries, but we expect no impact to 2014 delivery guidance.”

Boeing issued the statement after the Wall Street Journal reported the problem with the wing cracks.



787 Landing at Sydney AustraliaK65674SEATTLE — An 8-by-4-foot fuselage panel on the belly of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Air India fell off while the plane was in flight with 148 people aboard from Delhi to Bangalore, the Times of India reported. The plane landed safely.

India’s aviation agency is investigating the incident, which occurred Saturday. The loss of the panel left a gaping hold in the cargo hold, the Times said. It was not known where the aircraft piece landed.

There were 148 people, including crew, on the flight, and the hole was only noticed when the plane landed and the ground staff saw it.

The Reuters news agency quoted Boeing Co. spokesman Doug Alder as confirming a fuselage panel fell off the Air India plane in flight and as saying the missing pieced posed no safety risk to passengers. Alder told Reuters that Boeing is working to understand what caused the part to fall off.

The incident is the latest in a series of problems faced by the new Dreamliner aircraft, starting with a battery fires and smoke that grounded all Dreamliners across the world for months.

Local News

Two Boeing Dreamliner flights diverted after glitches

dreamlinerSEATTLE — Just months after the Boeing 787 Dreamliner model was grounded for weeks by the FAA, two electrical glitches caused minor problems and more headaches for Boeing Wednesday, the BBC reported .

An electrical system failure forced the closure of six out of seven bathrooms on a JAL flight from Moscow to Tokyo. Also on Wednesday, one of two anti-ice systems failed on a flight from Tokyo to San Diego. Similar issues forced a Tokyo-to-Singapore flight to turn back in June, the BBC reported. Boeing said both planes were diverted once the problems were recognized.

Boeing said it was looking in to both problems.

Multiple issues over the past year may have hurt Boeing, perhaps leading JAL airlines to a recent contract with Boeing’s competitor Airbus, the first of its kind. Still, the BBC reports Boeing has received more than 950 orders for the jet since its launch.


Local News

More damaged wires found in Boeing 787 beacon

boeing1TOKYO — Japan’s airliner ANA Holdings Inc. said it found damaged wires in an emergency beacon aboard a Boeing 787 used for Japanese domestic routes.

The damaged wires were similar to the problem that is believed to have caused a fire in a parked Ethopian Airlines jetliner earlier this month at London’s Heathrow Airport.

FAA regulators ordered inspections of the emergency portable beacon Thursday after they determined pinched wires probably caused the fire. Investigations into the the fire are still on going. Honeywell International Inc., the manufacturer of the emergency beacon aboard the plane, said there are currently more than 6,000 emergency beacons in use across a variety of Boeing airplane models.

Japan Airlines, the nation’s other operator of 787s, said earlier this week that it had completed checks of beacons and was flying its fleet of nine planes as usual after confirming their safety.

ANA said it will continue its normal operations of 12 Boeing Dreamliners flying on international routes after completing a check of those beacons.

Local News

Parked plane fire likely caused by human error

Ethiopian Air 787LONDON — New reports show a human error involving the incorrect installation of a lithium ion battery likely caused the July 12 fire aboard a 787 Dreamliner, the Seattle Times reported.

It was initially believed that the ion battery was the source of the fire, but it was unknown why the fire was sparked. If the new report is confirmed, it would absolve Boeing and battery manufacturer Honeywell of blame with improper manufacturing.

Photos of the burned lithium ion battery allegedly show internal wires connecting the battery to be crossed and trapped under casing, the Times reported. It appears the wires were trapped during installation when the battery’s cover was put back on. Pinching the wires most likely caused the short-circuit fire that was fueled by the lithium ion batteries.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to institute a mandatory Airworthiness Directive telling operators of the Dreamliner to inspect for proper wire routing and pinching. Other airplanes that use the Honeywell batter will also be inspected.

The fire July 12 on the parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 burned a large part of the plane’s fuselage and tail fin. No one was on board at the time of the fire.

A separate battery problem grounded more than 50 Dreamliners earlier this year.

787 bostonBOSTON– The problems appear to be piling up for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

A Japan Airlines flight headed to Tokyo was forced to turn around over Canada and return to Boston’s Logan Airport on Thursday due to a possible fuel pump issue.

Flight 007 returned to Boston when a maintenance indicator on the plane went off showing some sort of problem with the fuel pump.

A Japan Airlines spokeswoman described the turnaround “as a standard precautionary measure.”

It’s the second major incident involving the Dreamliner in the past 7 days. On July 12, a fire broke out on an Ethiopian Airlines 787 at London’s Heathrow Airport. Officials believe the plane’s emergency beacon overheated.


Courtesy CNN

SEATTLE — Boeing released a statement Thursday saying it supported the United Kingdom Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s recommendation to disconnect the emergency beacons in all 787 Dreamliners following the fire onboard an Ethopian Airlines flight last week.

The AAIB recommended Boeing take precautionary steps to disconnect the emergency beacon after the organization determined a malfunction in or near the beacon caused the fire on the parked Ethiopian Airlines Jet on July 12 at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Most of the damage in the fire occurred in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, coinciding with the location of the aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter, the AAIB report claimed.

The manufacturer of the transmitter produced about 6,000 units of the design, the report said, but the fire at Heathrow was the first reported incident.

The AAIB also asked the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a safety review of installations of the transmitter in other aircraft models.

“As a party to the investigation, Boeing supports the two recommendations from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which we think are reasonable precautionary measures to take as the investigation proceeds,” a statement from Boeing said. “We are working proactively to support the regulatory authorities in taking appropriate action in response to these recommendations, in coordination with our customers, suppliers, and other commercial airplane manufacturers.”

Boeing reiterated that the investigation into the fire was not complete, and that it stood by the integrity of its airplane. 

More than 50 Boeing Dreamliners were grounded by the FAA in January due to a separate battery malfunctions.

DENVER — A United Airlines 787 Dreamliner was diverted early Sunday due to a mechanical problem, the second such incident for the plane in a week.

United flight 94 was on its way to Denver when it was forced to fly back to the place from where it left: Houston, United Airlines said.

The cause: an issue with the brake indicator.

The plane landed without incident and with no passenger injuries, said Boeing, which makes the Dreamliner.

On Tuesday, another United Airlines Dreamliner flight made an unscheduled landing.


Courtesy CNN

That flight was on its way from Denver to Tokyo, when it was diverted to Seattle because of a problem with its oil filter.

The incidents come six months after the FAA and other officials grounded the Dreamliner worldwide due to troubles with its battery system.

“The 787 is a great airplane and we know it will continue to receive heightened attention when reliability events occur in service,” Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said Sunday.

Additional Dreamliners

The 787 Dreamliner began service in the U.S. in 2012.

The entire global fleet of 50 Dreamliners was grounded in January after two battery overheating incidents triggered concerns among safety officials.

Among the Dreamliner’s innovative new designs is a battery system that uses new, lighter lithium-ion batteries.

In April, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered all 787 operators to make specific modifications and United has been flying its fleet of six 787s since May 20.

United is the sole domestic operator of the airplane, which boasts high fuel efficiency due to the light-weight carbon-composite materials used in its wings and fuselage.

In an apparent show of confidence in the new airliner, United announced Tuesday it was ordering 20 additional Dreamliners, specifically the 787-10 model, which is a longer version of the plane.

The plane represents a new generation of efficient wide-body, long-range airliners, helping to make it among the world’s most watched aircraft.

Airlines worldwide have committed to buy the plane, and hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on Dreamliner’s success. Boeing’s rival Airbus flew a similar airliner, its highly anticipated A350 XWB, for the first time on Friday at its facility in Toulouse, France.

From CNN

dreamlinerTOKYO, Japan– Boeing’s 787 embattled Dreamliner airplane dealt with another, if minor, problem earlier this month.

Officials with All Nippon Airways said an electric distribution panel overheated and blackened during a test flight earlier this month in Japan. The May 4 test flight landed safely, and officials said the panel problem was a minor incident involving a nut that was not properly tightened during maintenance by Boeing workers.

Both companies said the problem did not involve overheating of the lithium ion battery, an issue that forced the worldwide grounding of the 787 fleet back in January.

All Nippon Airways has the largest fleet of Dreamliners. The airline plans to return its 17 Dreamliners to service June 1.