If you Google number “787”, chances are you’ll find reports on issues involving Boeing’s newest airliner since the beginning of the month. So far, these problems are triggering scrutiny from the media and obviously causing an amount of concern for certain passengers. I remember one particular case of a frequent flyer making a comparison between new planes and new cars and suggesting to “wait a year or two to get all the ‘recalls’ sorted out”. Is it worth waiting a year or two indeed? First, let’s recap what happened so far this month…
- January 7: At Logan International Airport in Boston, firefighters were called to put out a blaze in the auxiliary power unit (APU) of a Japan Airlines 787 that had just arrived from Tokyo Narita Airport (flight JL007). The airline issued a statement confirming no passengers or crew were injured, as they had already disembarked, and that the return flight to Tokyo (JL008) was cancelled.
- January 8: Also in Boston, another Japan Airlines 787 preparing to take-off for Tokyo (JL008) experienced a fuel leak of approximately 40 gallons (±150 litres). Again, the fire department was called, but this time, the flight left four hours later.
- January 9: Another Japanese 787 operator, ANA, cancelled a flight (NH698) from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Yamaguchi due to a “computer bug” indicating a problem with the brakes, says the Associated Press.
- January 9: On one of its Dreamliners, United Airlines “found a wiring problem” involving the APU, says Reuters, quoting a report from the Wall Street Journal.
- January 11: A crack appeared in the cockpit windshield of a ANA 787 flying from Haneda to Matsuyama (flight NH585). The aircraft continued to its final destination and made a safe landing; however the return flight to Haneda (NH590) was cancelled, says the New York Times. The same source indicates a minor oil leak was found on another ANA 787 that had just landed at Miyazaki Airport from Haneda. The aircraft was checked and proceeded as scheduled after a delay of less than an hour.
- January 11: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a “comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 critical systems” to be conducted jointly with the manufacturer, Boeing.
- January 13: The Associated Press reported that during an inspection, JAL discovered a 26.5-gallon (100-litre) fuel leak on a 787 that happened to be the same airframe involved in the January 7 incident in Boston.
What do you make of this list of problems involving the Boeing 787? Per CNN, aviation experts claim that new planes “do encounter problems after they launch”. On All Things 787, blogger Uresh says that there has been a “media frenzy” since the January 7 fire. The Aviation Herald even refers to “an unbelievable and unjustified hysteria throughout global media”.
Do these incidents make you lose confidence on Boeing’s newest jet? Simply put: would you feel comfortable flying the 787 today? Or would you rather “wait a year or two”?
UPDATE (Jan. 16, 2013): ANA and JAL ground their 787 fleet