Travel News

Boeing 787 Dreamliner: A Timeline of the Latest Incidents

Locations in this article:  Denver, CO Houston, TX London, England Seattle, WA Tokyo, Japan

The 787 has been under heavy scrutiny for most of 2013. In January, the Dreamliner made headlines due to a fire on an empty plane in Boston. The FAA then issued an emergency airworthiness directive to address the potential battery fire risk. The directive grounded all 787s in the US. Similar directives were in place in Japan, India and other countries.

Back in flight as of April 27,  small problems have continued to arise for the Dreamliner. We rounded up the most recent issues with the 787, creating a timeline of incidents that have occurred this summer and their resolution.

June 18, 2013 – A United Airlines Dreamliner carrying 200 passengers from Denver to Tokyo landed in Seattle because of an oil filter issue. The passengers stayed in a hotel overnight, then flew to Tokyo the next day on a different Dreamliner.

June 20, 2013 – On a flight from London to Houston, a United Airlines Dreamliner carrying 218 passengers stopped in Newark, New Jersey, due to an indicator showing the engine oil was low. Passengers were moved to different flights.

June 23, 2013 – A United Airlines Dreamliner experienced “a brake indicator issue”  shortly after takeoff on a flight from Houston to Denver. The plane made an emergency landing at Houston, where a maintenance team investigates the problem and returns the plane for service.

July 12, 2013 – A fire on an empty Ethiopian Airlines plane shut down runways at Heathrow airport for about an hour. An investigation found that the source was an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) manufactured by Honeywell International and its Canadian sub-contractor, Instrumar Ltd. The Canadian aviation regulator authority plans to inspect Instrumar’s facility.

Thomson Airways reported a “minor technical issue” shortly after departure on a flight from Manchester, England to Sanford, Florida. The Dreamliner returned to Manchester, where passengers were diverted to another plane. The plane and Thomson’s two other Dreamliners were tested and deemed safe to fly again.

July 18, 2013 – Pilots aboard a Japan Airlines Dreamliner flight from Boston to Tokyo decided to turn around over Canada after receiving a signal of a possible fuel pump malfunction.

July 20, 2013 – The  Federal Aviation Administration issued a press release stating that it is working with Boeing on developing instructions to operators for the inspection of the wiring in Emergency Locator Transmitters on Dreamliner 787s. The FAA also states that it will release an airworthiness directive that will make such inspections mandatory.

July 22, 2013 – Upon landing after a flight from Doha to Frankfurt, Qatar Airways grounded a Dreamliner after the pilots experienced a “minor incident” with the electrical panel. Two unidentified employees in Doha stated they saw smoke coming from the plane before takeoff.

July 24, 2013 – Air India reported an overheated oven caused smoke during a domestic flight, but there was no interruption to services.

July 26, 2013 – All Nippon Airways of Japan stated it has discovered battery wiring damage on two Dreamliner locator beacons. Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau orders all ELTs to be inspected, but quickly resumes all Dreamliner flights.

July 27, 2013 – During an inspection, United Airlines discovered a pinched wire in the Emergency Locator Transmitter on one of their 787s.

In addition to the FAA ordered investigations, Boeing’s Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth made a statement asking all operators to inspect aircraft equipped with fixed ELTs, which will include 787s, in addition to five other models. Honeywell  has manufactured ELTs since the mid-2000s, and while they are in support of the investigations, spokesperson Steve Brecken states that no one has conclusively determined the cause of the problems, and it will likely be months until a root cause is determined.

For more reports on the Dreamliner, check out:

By Ashleigh Whelan for