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Is The Dreamliner a Nightmare?

Posted by bvalaw on January 28, 2013

It appears that the Boeing 787 “Dreamliners” may not be so dreamy. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded U.S. registered 787’s for precautionary inspection, and authorities in other countries quickly followed suit. Why were the planed pulled out of circulation?

For one, a Japanese Airlines 787 apparently caught fire while sitting on the tarmac at Boston Logan Airport on January 7, 2013. After that, an All Nippon Airways flight made an emergency landing on January 16, after its battery caught fire. The believed problem appears to stem from a lithium ion battery. The danger of fire on board an airline is obvious, regardless of the cause. A fire that spreads to the electrical system can bring down a plane in flight.

It appears now that the recent fire in a Japan Airlines 787 did not result from an overcharge of the battery. Nonetheless, it is still possible that the problem in that plane resulted from a charging problem with the battery. In both cases, the batteries reportedly short-circuited from a thermal overrun. The one million dollar question is why.

The impact within the United States is likely minimal. United Airlines is the only airlines to use the 787, with six planes reportedly in service. But, safety should always come first in aviation, especially in commercial aviation, and something so basic should have been caught long before such an expensive platform was introduced into service.