US regulators launch Dreamliner review

Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 00:00

US regulators said they will perform a far-reaching review of the design, manufacturing and assembly of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after a fire on a Japan Airlines jet this week and several incidents last year.

“We are confident about the safety of this aircraft, but we’re concerned about these incidents and will conduct a review until we are completely satisfied,” Michael Huerta, head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said at a press conference today in Washington.

The review is in addition to a US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) probe of the January 7th fire that the agency said caused severe damage to the battery pack area of the 787 after passengers disembarked in Boston following a flight from Tokyo.

A couple of jets were grounded last month by a power fault which Boeing said this week it had traced to flaws in power panels.

Regulators will place special emphasis on the electrical systems, batteries and power distribution panels in the Dreamliner and how the electrical and mechanical systems of the airplane work together, Huerta said.

An agency review stops short of emergency actions such as mandatory fixes or a fleet grounding that the Washington-based FAA has imposed after some aviation accidents. The NTSB classified the fire in Boston as an “incident”, not an accident.

“I believe this plane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations of boarding one of these planes and taking a flight,” US transportation secretary Ray LaHood said at the press conference.

Meanwhile, there were two separate incidents involving Boeing 787 Dreamliners belonging to All Nippon Airways (ANA) in Japan on Friday.

ANA said a domestic flight from Tokyo landed safely at Matsuyama airport in western Japan after a crack developed on the cockpit windscreen, and the plane’s return to Tokyo was cancelled.

The same airline later said oil was found leaking from an engine of a 787 Dreamliner after the plane landed at Miyazaki airport in southern Japan. An airline spokeswoman said it later returned to Tokyo after some delay. No one was injured in either incident.