FAA orders Boeing Dreamliner review

11 January 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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Japan Airlines' (JAL) Boeing's 787 plane arrives at New Tokyo international airport

Japan Airlines' (JAL) Boeing's 787 plane arrives at New Tokyo international airport

US federal regulators are ordering a comprehensive review of the critical systems of Boeing's 787s, the aircraft maker's newest and most technologically advanced plane, after a fire and a fuel leak.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the review will include the design, manufacture and assembly of the aircraft.

Officials plan to detail the review at a news conference later.

The 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, relies more than any other modern airliner on electrical signals to help power nearly everything the plane does. It's also the first Boeing plane to use rechargeable lithium ion batteries and to be made with lightweight composite materials.

A fire ignited on Monday in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers.

Japan's All Nippon Airways reported two new cases of problems with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

An ANA spokeswoman said today a very small amount of oil was discovered leaking from the left engine of a 787 on an internal flight.

ANA said on another flight glass in a cockpit window cracked and the aircraft was grounded for repairs.

The airline cancelled a domestic flight to Tokyo this week after a computer wrongly indicated a problem with the 787's brakes.

A Boeing official said the company is working with the FAA.

"We are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said. "We are working with the FAA and our customers to ensure we thoroughly understand any introductory issues that arise.

"While we take each issue seriously, nothing we've seen in service causes us to doubt the capabilities of the airplane."

Boeing has insisted that the 787's problems are no worse than what it experienced when its 777 was new in the mid-1990s. That plane is now one of its top sellers and is well liked by airlines.

Boeing has delivered 50 of the 787s, starting in late 2011, and has orders for nearly 800 more.

To get through the backlog, Boeing is increasing production to build 10 of the planes per month in Washington state and South Carolina by the end of the year.

"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," Boeing added. "While the 787’s reliability is on par with the best in class, we have experienced in-service issues in recent months and we are never satisfied while there is room for improvement. 

"We welcome the opportunity to conduct this joint review."

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