Boeing 787 Fleets Removed From Service by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines

Six incidents within fewer than two weeks prompted both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to remove their entire fleets of Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft from service until further notice.

In the latest of numerous incidents since the Boeing 787 aircraft entered commercial service, a domestic flight in Japan operated by All Nippon Airways — which operates a fleet of 17 “Dreamliner” airplanes — was forced into an emergency landing in Takamatsu on the Japanese island of Shikoku after smoke was reportedly indicated in the cabin. All 129 passengers and eight flight crew members evacuated using inflatable emergency slides.

The source of the smoke was attributed to a problem with a battery.

Among other reported incidents involving the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft include but are not limited to:

  • A fire in Boston as a result of alleged improper wiring of at least one battery, causing in United Airlines to have its fleet inspected
  • Smoke from an electrical fire reportedly in the cargo hold, followed by a subsequent fuel leak — also in Boston — but with no passengers on board an airplane operated by Japan Airlines
  • A mechanical problem pertaining to an electrical issue forced a diversion of a United Airlines flight last month

Two fuel leaks, a battery fire, a wiring problem, a computer issue with the brakes, and a cracked cockpit window were all reported on Boeing 787 aircraft within the last week alone.

Interestingly, the Boeing 787 aircraft supposedly uses lithium batteries — the same type of batteries which the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States advises against carrying in checked baggage due to the temperatures in cargo holds of aircraft in general becoming too hot. Rules pertaining to passengers transporting lithium batteries first became effective on January 1, 2008 — supposedly to protect against fires and prevent explosions similar to what some of the Boeing 787 aircraft have apparently been experiencing with their batteries.

Should United Airlines also proactively ground their fleet of Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft? Does the grounding of aircraft leading to flight cancellations qualify for EU261 compensation? FlyerTalk members wonder if both British Airways and Qantas will delay their orders or reconsider purchasing the Boeing 787 aircraft as a result of the incidents.

A Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft on the tarmac in Seattle before embarking on the inaugural commercial flight of any “Dreamliner” aircraft on October 1, 2012. Photograph by Jonathan Spira — who is also known as FlyerTalk member jspira — of Frequent Business Traveler magazine.

It almost seems like eons ago since the glory days of the introduction of the long-anticipated aircraft — incorporating the latest in technology while comprised of materials designed to save fuel — when it evoked excitement amongst frequent fliers. FlyerTalk member jspira — also known as Jonathan Spira, who is the editorial director for Frequent Business Traveler magazine — posted a trip report as one of the passengers fortunate enough to be aboard the inaugural flight of a Boeing 787 aircraft in commercial aviation service.

Some people might think that the media is focusing too much attention on the problems suffered by Boeing 787 aircraft since it was first introduced, contributing to Boeing potentially experiencing a public relations nightmare. That is quite possible. However, all of the airlines involved have taken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of their passengers. As I have said before, the first model year of any machine — especially one as complex as a new model of commercial aircraft — usually has “bugs” which need to be worked out. The problems experienced by the Boeing 787 aircraft appear to me to be minor and even sloppy at best — unless left unchecked, of course.

Besides, the Boeing 787 is certainly not the first aircraft to experience problems, as illustrated by engine problems with Airbus A380 aircraft operated by Qantas and Emirates.

We are dealing with experienced and reputable airplane manufacturers, legacy commercial airlines which have been in business for decades, professional pilots which undergo rigorous amounts of training, and the strictest of safety policies, rules and procedures currently in force. Should you be concerned about Boeing 787 aircraft? Perhaps. Worried? No.

What do you say — would you be comfortable flying as a passenger on Boeing 787 aircraft??

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