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The Boeing 787 Grounded–CBS Report & Travel Detective Blog

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Yesterday, the historic Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded by the FAA in the US and taken out of service in Japan. Peter offers some perspective on the neverending 787 growing pains check out his latest blog and CBS This Morning report. 

The most recent bulletin in the 787 saga: The FAA just announced it was grounding the 787 pending issuing an airworthiness directive concerning lithium ion batteries on the plane. This is exactly what I spoke about a week ago in the wake of the electrical fire on the JAL 787 at Boston’s Logan Airport.

The historical significance of this FAA move is this: The FAA is moving at lightning speed to deal with this electrical/battery problem. The last time I can remember the FAA essentially grounding an entire aircraft type was in 1979, and it was the DC-10. and it happened after the May 5, 1979 tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in Chicago. An inspection of other DC-10′s revealed structural cracks in engine mounts and cracks on strategic metal surfaces (the cracks were actually due to an unapproved maintenance and engine change procedure–some airlines were performing that saved them about six hours per engine change but then weakened or broke the critical bolts used in the engine mounts).

The airworthiness directive–the most stringent the FAA can issue–grounded all DC-10s until they could all be inspected. This is essentially what the FAA action did today, the first severe airworthiness directive I can remember since 1979. For the FAA take such action it can only mean they have discovered what they think may be a serious systemic problem with the lithium ion batteries, their installation and/or associated wiring or bundling on the 787.  It also may mean a further look into the production components of the batteries, their manufacture and their installation.

Also today, after an emergency landing of a JAL 787 in which passengers were evacuated from the plane–after a warning signal of a battery problem on the cockpit instruments–both JAL and ANA grounded their entire fleet of 787s. What makes this development particularly interesting is that for an airline to voluntarily ground its entire fleet of aircraft without a government/regulatory mandate to do so is significant and newsworthy. Not to mention creating a severe financial impact on both airlines.

The key here is not whether or not the new aircraft has growing pains. That’s inevitable. The key is not whether or not the NTSB will do a thorough investigation into some of the recent incidents. The key is how fast the FAA is moving to require whatever fixes are necessary.

I’m on top of the story, and will report/interpret developments as they happen.

For more reports on the Dreamliner, check out:

By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com

Feature image Credit Wikimedia, user: MilborneOne

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