Update on 787 event in Boston

The 787 has been in the headlines quite a bit this week, and I wanted to take this opportunity to address the incidents at Boston Logan Airport.

First, today’s issue with one of Japan Airlines’ 787s (a different airplane than the one involved in Monday’s incident) was resolved after a four hour delay and the airplane took off for Tokyo.

As for Monday’s incident involving another JAL 787, we’ve been working closely with the airline, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other government agencies. JAL tells us that after the airplane landed and all passengers had disembarked, smoke was detected. The smoke was later traced to the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit.

We can’t talk about any specific details while the investigation is ongoing. But I can tell you that nothing we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events, which involved power panel faults elsewhere in the aft electrical equipment bay. We’ve shared the information about those prior events with the NTSB and they’re aware of the details. Since we want to deal in facts rather than speculation, we’re giving our technical teams time to look over everything. Our full statement is here.

In the meantime, 787s continue to fly all over the world. The airplanes are in service with eight customers— having logged more than 18,000 flight cycles and flown more than 50,000 hours. We have complete confidence in the 787 and vow to take care of any issues our customers are experiencing— day or night.

Comments (16)

Tom (Dallas TX):

Randy, I guess the concern from passengers would be the fact that there appear to be a series of unconnected events, some mechanical, some electrical and the latest involving leaking fuel. They appear to be scattered around different parts of the 787 and it is a worry for us that such a marvellous aircraft clearly still has issues whilst being flight operational.

I have every confidence that Boeing will effectively deal with these but it's sad to see so many in a comparatively short space of time. I'm wanting to fly this plane to experience its ground breaking technology and hopefully can do that soon.

Regards

Randy Critchlow (St. Louis, MO):

I am fairly new to the Boeing Aircraft Company (5 year in Sept 2013), but I am proud to be an employee of the Boeing Corporation. The Boeing Company and its' employees continue to impress me with their dedication to perfection and innovation. Boeing's quick response to it customers' needs is a testament to this company and its' employees.

GP (HB, CA):

The Boeing News has had several articles about the increase in the # of airplane deliveries per month. When I read this info I always wonder about building airplanes too fast because of the safety that is needed. Chances are it will result in pressure to get the task done & the end result will be poor workmanship. HASTE makes WASTE!

While I understand financial profit, there may be too many risks with loss of quality for big gains in quantity & in the long run it may not be worth it!

I look forward to flying 787 & I hope the QUALITY & SAFETY can be brought up to the 737 & 777 standards!

Dave Sherry (El Segundo, CA):

Boeing can't control external events, especially the unfortunate timing of (apparently) unrelated issues this week. But..."can we do no better" at shaping public perception and influencing the context?? This week's news was gosh awful. No less than NPR (my favorite) practically tar'd and feathered us. Where are the stories about the improved flying experience? We have been in revenue service for months....does anyone like the aircraft? I would think passengers would be delighted with the better views and much improved cabin air (pressure and humidity). It doesn't seem like anyone in the press knows anything about this. Are the airlines pleased? Are any of the development program challenges and cost issues (the history) relevant to the current production rate, deliveries, service performance, and especially the revenues of our customers? Do we (Boeing) know any reporters???

Eduardo deRivas (Seattle, WA):

It is a good thing that these incidents have happened without loss of airplane and passangers. I am wondering how is the quality control doing in production and how did the fuel leak and fire occur if production processes are being followed faitfully.

JP (Seattle):

Boeing has developed an all new airplane which incorporates many cutting edge technologies, materials and manufacturing processes. And after 50,000 flight hours the glitches have amounted to a battery that got too hot and another aircraft leaked a little fuel. Keeping things in perspective........a great aircraft with very few minor bugs which should all be easily resolved.

Varun G (Chicago IL):

I have been a supporter of the 787 for years now, gone through all the tough spots watching from the sideline, but this is a little too much to handle. These events, although unconnected have not only scared the public, but have been having myself a little bit concerned. These problems seem to continue to happen, problems that should have evolved during flight test, and its come to the point when I have to ask Boeing, when are these "teething problems" going to stop. Since service entry, there have been multiple fuel leaks, gear problems, electrical fires, and braking problems. I have had people coming up to me, people that are not usually involved in any sort of aviation news, asking me about these problems. In fact, I just got an email today saying something very similar to, "trouble in paradise" then sending me to a link of a news article about the 787 and its "teething problems". I truly have been a huge supporter of Boeing and believe its products are amazing, I have even defended it from anybody that says otherwise, but this is getting to be too much. 3 incidents in 3 days! One involving a fire, and one involving an equally dangerous fuel leak is just not acceptable for such a prestigious company. I just ask the people of Boeing to not make it difficult for me to support this company, and the 787. And as I like to finish all my posts, good luck to the 787, and good luck to Boeing.

Daniel K (Sydney, Australia):

Hi Randy,

I'm glad you've posted this journal entry to clarify things.
In my opinion much like the launch of all brand new aircraft, there are always niggling issues to begin with.

I look forward to Boeing and its suppliers and partners ironing out the issues as soon as possible and look forward to more positive publicity in the coming months.

In conclusion, the choice of all the airlines currently flying the aircraft and refusing to ground them is a testament to the confidence they have on the Dreamliner.

Carol Oliver (Seattle, WA):

I echo Dave's comments. Is the "Everett Herald" the only media corporation in the world that will report the good of Boeing? Perhaps we should connect the dots to the large oil baron's and their friends who own most all of the other media outlets. This obsessive quest to find fault with a new breed of plane whose fuel efficiency challenges their profit margins may not be unrelated.

I understand the 787 is under more scrutiny than other airplanes given that it is a game-changing airplane but I have to point out that with all the many thousands of flights and planes aloft each day it certainly cannot be the only one having mechanical or electrical problems. How many of these others don't get the attention of the press?

They say on Madison Avenue that even bad press is good advertising so if it keeps the public and corporate eyes on our new airplane to watch it's progress I say "Bring it on!" We have the best people on the planet doing their best work every day to check and double check the safety and precision production of our planes. We can take the heat and in the long run our quality and attention to detail will prove itself.

Del Wilson (Ogden, Utah):

Given the complexity and large amount of new technology in this airplane it is reasonable to expect some early problems. This is what we refer to in industry as infant mortality events. Typicaly the number and severity of these events drop off rapidly as the system matures, remains fairly flat over most of the lifetime and then goes up again as a system approaches end of life. This is not unusual, every technicaly complex system experiences it to some degree. That the Dreamliner has had so few and all of them minor is a tribute to the design team and the fabricators and assemblers who put these marvelous machines together.

Rich Noble (Everett, WA):

I have flown on the 787 several times to and from Tokyo and it is my preferred aircraft for the return trip due to the incredible lack of jet lag I experience. I like the 777, but the jet lag from the Tokyo to Seattle flight would last 1-2 weeks. The jet lag after the same leg on a 787 was eliminated with a 1 to 2 hour nap.

The higher humidity eliminated the sinus issues that are usually associated with the long international flights.

The cabin interior on the ANA 787 is beautiful. Very spacious and the larger windows give a sense of openness.

The crews that I've spoken to are very proud of the plane and very happy with the 787. Those crew members that have not yet flown on the 787 are excited to get an opportunity to experience the plane.

I will continue to fly on the 787 when the opportunity presents itself.

Nino Spampinato (Renton, WA):

Appreciate Dave Sherry's comments. It just seems that the operational news that we hear from outside sources is "negative". Being tied into the day to day 787 events as part of my work makes me more likely adversely influenced than perhaps the general public. Though I deal with statistics on a daily basis, sometimes it is difficult to have the broad (hopefully more positive) perspective one needs during initial years of operations. It would be helpful to see a story of 787 vs 777 or 737NG initial utilization and dispatch reliability to have a clearer understanding and perspective.

Andrew Boydston (Boise,ID USA):

"Increased complexity increases the squawks, Airbus take note. These are just A-typical squawks for an A-typical airplane going through teething pains that are not routine issues for a new airplane. An all electric architecture is not typical. The good news is as follows. Boeing overbuilt new systems never before employed. They took the NASA route of multiples for everything until further notice. Example: "A test Airplane catches fire in electronics bay during flight over the Rocky Mountains, Boeing just landed later in Texas and found out what went wrong." Safety, redundancy, and planning has kept this aircraft flying through the root-canals in its jaw bone."

Boeing, you have done an excellent job. All systems are doing its jobs as issues are encountered. It is comfort to the airlines and passengers to know that Boeing takes its tasks seriously. Boeing expected squawks,faults and issues, as in all new airplane roll outs to the public. But where they would occur, nobody could tell until putting the 787 under the rigors of production and repeated flight cycles greater than the testing period. The squawks are normal as far as having them on a new aircraft. The types of squawks are not typical due to a whole new technology. That dissonance for squawks old type and new type is the angst the press and public are now experiencing. Having an elevator flap stick or a landing gear jamming is a squawk for the old school, that everyone understands, and is corrected without mishap. Having an electrical melt down or a generator stop from a faulty circuitry board is the price of technology achievement. However, the equalizer is planning ahead with redundant systems, contingent programming ,and anticipation if something happens it is covered by the diligent effort of Boeing's people and designs.

These problems are not excused, nor are they wanted by Boeing. The plan was to build a perfect airplane without any squawks. The plan was also, what if these thing happens, is there a plan B? Boeing has successfully installed Plan B's in this aircraft.

Its unfortunate that plan B is activated at times when shaking out this aircraft from operational squawks. There is plenty of good news with these squawks. Systems B works and the safety of airlines and passengers continue to be highlighted. Perhaps now is not a good time to say that during a rash of issues. But confidence is high with those who know what is at stake when building this aircraft. Give props to the NTSB and other government agencies working with Boeing. They have not lost there cool and made any "sky is falling" pronouncements. They are doing a great job of doing its part with Boeing in sorting out the squawks. The press continues to rubber stamp its every article with: "Three Years Late" and "Fiscal Cliff". Its there job to fill up white space, Its Boeing's job to fly airplanes!


Picture taken will save on the press reporting one more time its inane reporting.

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

Teething problems are a reality with new airframes and significant improvement models of older aircraft. These kinds of problems are not unique to the 787 but it is nevertheless serious. I am glad these problems are being taken care of right away. The issues related to the 787 as every passenger should know will not be permanent but temporary, the 787 will be fine in the time to come.

miquel polman (kesteren,the netherlands):

The exellent comment from Andrew Boydsten hits the right spot.I,m so sick and tired of bad press.There was a newspaper here in Holland who had a comment on the frontpage,Dreamliner is Nightmare....This is what i call "stupid journalism". Later that day there was a comment on a radioprogram from a professor who teaches aeronautics at a university here in Holland and he was very angry with the press.He said that the Dreamliner is a all new gamechanging airplane and it sure has teethingproblems but he added that the A380 had them as well...But he had full confidence in the 787.KLM and Arkefly{both ordered the 787} expressed full confidence.The first week of march i,m flying to Seattle with my friend,also a big Boeing fan,to visit the Boeing factory and the museum of flight.We,re flying United because they start 787 service from Amsterdam to Houston in Februari.We could fly direct to Seattle with KLM but then we had to travel with an A330...No, we want to fly the 787!!!
And we will...And we can,t wait to experience the 787!Now we fly with the 787 to Houston and then with a 737/900 to Seattle.So this will be an all Boeing flight.Good luck Boeing with the problems,you will fix it!!No doubt about it.Our Motto still is "if it ain,t Boeing,i ain,t going.

Eduardo deRivas (Seattle, WA):

First the use of lithium batteries on aircraft is not new. We never heard of the F-35 having problems with their lithium batteries. These aircraft pull some heavy Gs and the batteries never malfunctioned. Second, there are other lithium battery manufacturers that are more experienced and make them for aircraft and space. Third, GM use them on their Chevy Volt. They experienced lithium battery fires for their 24kilowatt-hour batteries after a crash. They solved the problem by keeping their batteries cool with a cooling system because they get hot. The cooling system can be a simple one inside the metal battery box. Lastly, if I was the decision maker I would explore another supplier with more experience with lithium batteries for aircraft and space use and more reliable product. The current supplier is not very experienced in lithium battery technology and new to aircraft lithium batteries. I think the batteries that burned were defective and not proper for aircraft use. There are more experienced manufacturers that will provide better batteries and would have avoided the 787 all this nightmare. Please note, Airbus is not going to use the same battery manufacturer.

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