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Entries in Dreamliner (13)

Friday
Mar152013

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flights to Resume in Weeks?

Duncan Chard/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Boeing's grounded fleet of 787 Dreamliners will resume flying within weeks, company executives said on Friday, after Boeing engineers developed layers of additional safety measures to eliminate the risk of fire from a faulty lithium-ion battery system.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Chief Engineer Michael Sinnett fiercely defended the Dreamliner, calling it "among the safest airplanes" in Boeing's history.  He said engineers had spent 200,000 hours analyzing what caused batteries on two of its flights to overheat in January.

In one incident, a lithium ion battery caught fire on a Japan Airlines flight parked at Boston's Logan Airport.  Smoke from a battery system on an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan forced an emergency landing and prompted U.S. and Japanese regulators to ground all 50 Dreamliners indefinitely.

"We may never get to the single root cause [of the problems]," Sinnett said.  "But the process we've applied to understand what improvements can be made is the most robust process we've ever followed in improving a part in history."

In Boeing's first detailed explanation of the proposed changes to the battery system, Sinnett said engineers had identified 80 potential problems that could lead to a battery fire and redesigned the system to eliminate any fire risk.  

Boeing plans to add a battery enclosure made of stainless steel, preventing any gas released from the batteries from spreading to the rest of the plane.  Engineers also plan to add heat-resistant sleeving, and extra insulation spacers.

Sinnett said he was "confident" a fire would not occur, but that he could not rule out battery failures in the future.

"Parts fail.  We know that some day a battery may fail," he said.  "We need to make sure that there is no significant impact at the airplane level when it does."

The new system has already gone through a third of the tests required for the certification process, and will likely be completed "within weeks," according to Boeing Executive Vice President Ray Conner, who also spoke in Tokyo.

But Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ota failed to provide a timeline of the Dreamliner's return, saying the Transport Ministry still had to conduct tests and analyses with the Federal Aviation Administration to confirm the safety of the aircraft.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb212013

United Airlines Grounds Dreamliners

United Airlines(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines is removing the Boeing 787 from its planned schedule for the time being.

After issues on a number of the so-called Dreamliners, United says that their 787s will remain on the ground for now.

United was planning to launch a new route, from Denver to Tokyo's Narita airport, with the 787 on March 31. That date has been delayed until at least May 12. As of now, the 787 will not fly any other routes until at least June 5.

United's 787s could still take off before those dates, provided a solution to the Dreamliners' problems is found and implemented.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan302013

Boeing's 787 Dreamliners Had Battery Issues in the Past, Reports Say

Matt Hosford/ABC News(TOKYO) -- Lithium-ion batteries on board Boeing's 787 Dreamliners were plagued by problems long before battery failures grounded the planes earlier this month.

Published reports say All Nippon Airways replaced 10 of its batteries months ago because they failed to operate normally.  In one case, they showed an unexpectedly low charge.

ANA notified Boeing but wasn't required to report the problem to safety regulators because it wasn't considered a flight risk.

The National Transportation Safety Board says past problems will be included in a larger investigation that has grounded Dreamliners indefinitely around the world.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan232013

Initial Probe Finds ANA's Dreamliner Battery Was Not Overcharged

Duncan Chard/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- An initial investigation into one of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner incidents has answered at least one question.  

Japan’s Transport Safety Board says the lithium-ion battery that burned mid-flight aboard an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner, prompting an emergency landing last week, wasn't overcharged.

But the battery has not been ruled out as the cause of the fire.  It continues to be the main focus of the Transport Safety Board's investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.  

Officials have already conducted a CT scan in Japan and plan to disassemble the burned battery so they can analyze it piece by piece.

Meanwhile, the probe into the Japan Airlines Dreamliner that leaked fuel earlier this month has now shifted to the U.K., where Japanese inspectors are investigating the company that manufactures the valve actuator.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan222013

Probe into Boeing's 787 Dreamliners Grows

Matt Hosford/ABC News(TOKYO) -- The investigation into Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliners now spans three countries.

Japan's transport ministry is investigating a British company that makes the plane's valve actuators.  The National Transportation Safety Board, meanwhile, is inspecting the Arizona-based manufacturer of the jet's lithium-ion battery chargers.

In Kyoto Tuesday, Federal Aviation Administration and Japanese officials continued their probe of the battery maker for a second day.

The NTSB has ruled out an overcharged battery as the cause of the fire on board a Japan Airlines Dreamliner this month.  But the battery remains the focus of a separate investigation into an All Nippon Airways flight that prompted an emergency landing last week.

The conflicting problems have prolonged flight cancellations and grounded dozens of Dreamliners around the world.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan182013

FAA Coming Under Fire over Approval of Boeing 787 Dreamliners

Matt Hosford/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Aviation Administration decided to halt U.S. flights on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners to investigate problems with the jets' batteries.  Now, some are asking why the FAA didn't pay closer attention before the planes went into service.

The Wall Street Journal reports that when the FAA approved the Dreamliners' lithium-ion battery systems -- which had never been used before in big jets -- the agency "relied extensively" on data from Boeing, the planes' manufacturer. 

Boeing's information suggested that the batteries had "redundant safeguards," making them "essentially foolproof."

The FAA doesn't have the budget or staff to do its own testing but says it provided "rigorous oversight" during the certification process.  

After two major battery malfunctions, that process itself is coming under scrutiny.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Boeing 787 Dreamliners Deemed Safe Despite Mishaps, Planned Review

Duncan Chard/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The flying public is safe on Boeing 787 Dreamliners, despite several mishaps including fuel leaks and an electrical fire, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Friday.

"I would fly on one today," LaHood said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., Friday morning.

The Dreamliner has come under fresh scrutiny in the wake of the incidents, with the Federal Aviation Administration's ordering of a comprehensive review of the plane's design.  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on Friday said the agency intends to perform a special review of the carbon-fiber plane to ensure that it's safe to fly.

In a rare joint news conference with Boeing, government officials repeatedly assured the flying public of the 787's safety.

"Nothing suggests the airplane is not safe," Huerta said.  "We believe this is a safe aircraft.  To validate the work during the certification process, we'll work with Boeing to check on systems design and production."

"We want to make sure that the approved quality-control process is in place.  We want to see the entire picture and not focus on individual events, to determine the root causes of these events," he said.

The plane will not be grounded by the FAA and will continue to fly during the review.  Huerta said he cannot speculate on a timetable for the review, but it will proceed as expeditiously as possible

He said the review will focus on the Dreamliner's electrical system, including the battery and the power distribution panels, and how electrical and mechanical systems interact with one another.

The latest incident involving the 787 occurred overnight when a three-foot-long crack appeared in the cockpit window of an All Nippon Airlines 787 flying in Japan.

In addition to that incident, another Dreamliner's electrical power system caught fire earlier this week at Boston's Logan Airport.

Six 787s have been delivered domestically, all purchased by United, while there are 50 flying worldwide, including Poland and Chile.

United says it has no plans to take its Dreamliners out of service during the review.

"We continue to have complete confidence in the 787 and in the ability of Boeing, with the support of the FAA, to resolve these early operational issues," the carrier said in a statement.  "We will support Boeing and the FAA throughout their review."

Boeing says it has "extreme confidence in the 787," and that it is 100 percent "safe to fly."

Boeing President Ray Conner emphasized on Friday that the 787 has logged 50,000 flights, carrying more than a million passengers with no injuries, and its in-service reliability matches the record of its previous new plane roll-out, the 777.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Report: FAA to Review Boeing 787 Dreamliners After Fire

Matt Hosford/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Aviation Administration will hold a news conference Friday morning to discuss the recent rash of problems with Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners.

Bloomberg reports the government will call for a review of the plane's newly-designed electrical power system, which caught fire this week in Boston's Logan Airport.

The fire broke out Monday morning on board an empty 787 that had flown in non-stop from Tokyo.  The Massachusetts Port Authority's fire chief, Bob Donahue, said the blaze began in a battery pack for the plane's auxiliary power unit, which runs the jet's electrical systems when it's not getting power from its engines.

No major injuries were reported and one firefighter experienced skin irritation after contact with a chemical used to douse the fire, Donahue said.

The FAA has not commented on Bloomberg's report.

Boeing issued a statement in response, saying, "We actively work with the FAA daily, across all of our product lines.  We do not publicly comment on the nature and content of those communications."

"We are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787.  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's statement continued.

There are 50 Dreamliners flying worldwide, six in the United States alone.  United Airlines, which operates all the 787s in the U.S., says it has no plans to take the jets out of service.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

United Hopes to Improve Flying Experience with Dreamliner

Matt Hosford/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It's the airplane designed to bring back some of the fun in flight.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is finally making its domestic debut this holiday season. It's the passenger jet with swooping wings and a fuselage made primarily of plastic.

"The airplane, in terms of what it's like to fly, is revolutionary," said Capt. Jim Starley, managing director of flight operations for United Airlines.

Boeing has sold more than 800 of the planes around the world, but United is the first U.S. airline to fly the Dreamliner. Service began this month.

"The feeling of space is enormous," said Jeff Smisek, United's CEO.

Airlines are buying the new planes because they're cheaper to fly and more efficient, but they're going to sell would-be passengers on feature comforts such as the air itself.

The Dreamliner's cabin has more oxygen and it's cleaner and less dry than current plane air. The jets also have large storage bins, which, Boeing says, can fit four suitcases.

Because the plane is made of plastic, it is more flexible so air pressure inside the plane can be kept higher. The maker says the improvement in air pressure leads to less jet lag, as well as less dry mouth and skin for passengers.

Blake Emery, the director of differentiation strategy for Boeing, said the Dreamliner offers "significant" changes from today's flying experience.

"The increase in humidity, the pressurization of the cabin, the additional filtration system we put in," Emery said. "It's a very different experience than today's airplanes."

The windows have also changed -- they are a third bigger on the new 787s.

"I can see the horizon from my seat," Larry Coughlin, director of 787 manufacturing for Boeing, said from his aisle seat.

The windows, Emery said, have added controls, with dimming features and tinting so that a passenger will "never lose connection with the outside."

The entrance was not left out of the redesign -- now larger to give passengers the feeling of spaciousness when stepping onboard.

A light show, integrated into the architecture of the cabin, was added on board with different colors for takeoff, cruising, and food. There is a palette of colors to create mood: blue lights for takeoff resembling the open sky and a warmer amber tone for meal service.

"So we go into the warm colors, like candlelight," said Mark Larson, the technical manager for the Dreamliner Gallery at Boeing.

On the flight deck, pilots say the 787 carries the next level of safety.

"It's absolutely a generational step," Starley said.

A security camera shows pilots who is outside the cockpit door. Advanced radar detects potential mid-air collisions miles away and warns the crew. A GPS system can land the Dreamliner on its own, in zero visibility.

Boeing says the plane is so advanced it is moving aviation to the next level -- more efficient and more comfortable than it has been.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

Boeing, Machinist Union Reach Tentative Deal to Settle NLRB Dispute

Stephen Morton/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After months of labor law wrangling and political posturing, airline manufacturer Boeing and the Machinists Union have reached a tentative deal to extend the Washington State-based airplane production workers’ contracts for four years.

If the deal is ratified by its members next week, the union said it would drop the unfair labor practice suit against Boeing that is currently pending before the National Labor Relations Board.

“We believe the proposed extension is good for our members, it’s good for Boeing, it’s good for airline customers and it’s good for communities,” said Machinist Union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher. “It secures a strong future here, provides top-notch pay and benefits and really signals the start of a potential new relationship with Boeing.”

Under the terms of the deal, union workers get job security from the contracts to build Boeing’s new 737 MAX airplane, 700 of which have already been ordered, along with the 3,000 original 737s currently on backorder.

Boeing gets the go-ahead to start production of its 787 Dreamliner at its newly-built South Carolina facility without the threat of the NLRB forcing them to close because of what it sees as unfair labor practices.

The NLRB dispute revolves around Boeing’s decision to build some of the 787 Dreamliners, which are currently being assembled in Washington where workers are unionized, at a new facility in South Carolina, a right to work state. The South Carolina plant would add 1,000 new jobs in a state where unemployment rate currently sits at 10.5 percent, 1.5 percentage points above the national average.

If the labor board ruled in favor of the Machinist Union, Boeing may have had to close the South Carolina plant and move production of the Dreamliner back to Washington.

The labor board dispute has become a litmus test of sorts for Republicans, especially those running for the party’s presidential nominee.

Every GOP presidential candidate has chastised the lawsuit -- and President Obama's apparent support of it. Mitt Romney called it a “power grab.” Herman Cain said it was, “completely unacceptable...political games.” And Newt Gingrich accused the labor board of “basically breaking the law.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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