Financial News

  • 20 March 2014, 12:11

Dreamliner 787 Aircraft 'Soundly Designed'

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has been deemed soundly designed and safe to fly, according to a joint review by the aircraft maker and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The yearlong review into the overall safety of the cutting-edge jetliner follows a spate of problems encountered by the aircraft since its rollout in 2011.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta asked for the review in January 2013 after a lithium-ion battery caught fire on a 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston.

A battery aboard another 787 failed less than two weeks later, prompting airlines around the world temporarily ground their Dreamliner fleets.

Wednesday's report was not intended to address the batteries, which have since been redesigned, but rather the overall safety of Boeing's design and manufacture of the plane and the adequacy of FAA's oversight.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said: "The findings validate our confidence in both the design of the airplane and the disciplined process used to identify and correct in-service issues as they arise"

The report makes several recommendations for improvement by Boeing and FAA.

It calls for the FAA to make changes to its oversight of the safety certification of new planes to take into account "new aircraft manufacturing business models".

The report also says Boeing should require suppliers to follow industry standards for personnel performing Boeing-required inspections.

Boeing extensively outsourced the manufacture of many elements of the 787 to overseas suppliers. Suppliers sometimes then outsourced portions of their work to other companies.

Earlier this month, Boeing said it had discovered hairline cracks in the wings of 787s under construction. The company said issue did not exist in its active fleet, and would take up to two weeks to resolve.

Last month, an Air India Dreamliner, flying nonstop from Sydney to Delhi, with 215 people on board, landed in Kuala Lumpur under emergency conditions after its cockpit panels suffered a software malfunction.

There was a third battery incident in Japan in January, but Boeing officials said the problem appeared to have been contained by a new battery design.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the battery fire in Boston is still ongoing.