News / Asia

No Timetable Yet for Dreamliner Return to Flight

Norihiro Goto, Japan Transport Safety Board chairman, speaks during a news conference at the transport ministry in Tokyo, January 23, 2013.
Norihiro Goto, Japan Transport Safety Board chairman, speaks during a news conference at the transport ministry in Tokyo, January 23, 2013.
Reuters
Japanese regulators have joined their U.S. counterparts in all but ruling out overcharged batteries as the cause of recent fires on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has been grounded for a week with no end in sight.

Solving the battery issue has become the primary focus of the investigation, though the head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday there are still no firm answers as to the cause and no clear timetable yet for returning the plane to flight.

Regulators grounded the Dreamliner on January 16 after a series of safety incidents, including battery fires on planes in the United States and Japan. The Japanese incident forced a plane to make an emergency landing.

Boeing's Dreamliner 787 Problems

  • Jan. 16: ANA flight makes emergency landing after a battery problem
  • Jan. 13: JAL 787 suffers fuel spill
  • Jan. 11: ANA 787 grounded after a windshield crack is discovered; another ANA 787 delayed for oil leak
  • Jan. 9: ANA cancels 787 flight because of brake issue
  • Jan. 8: JAL 787 grounded in Boston after a fuel spill
  • Jan. 7: Fire breaks out on an empty JAL 787


 
Last weekend the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said the fire on a Japan Airlines Co Ltd 787 in Boston was not due to excess voltage, and on Wednesday, Japanese officials all but ruled it out for the incident on an All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd plane there.

``On the surface, it appears there was no overcharging,'' said Norihiro Goto, chairman of the Japan Transport Safety Board, at a media briefing.

"The fact that such electrical system-related incidents would occur consecutively, purely from my perspective, could not have been expected," he said. "We are finding it difficult trying to figure out what kind of investigative stance we should take.''

The investigation has also renewed scrutiny on the FAA's 2007 decision to let Boeing use a highly flammable battery technology on the 787. A U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing in coming weeks to examine aviation safety oversight and the FAA's decision, a congressional aide said on Tuesday.

No Timetable

While the NTSB and JTSB hunt for a solution to the battery question, there is also an open issue around fuel leaks on the Dreamliner. In early December, U.S. officials warned of a manufacturing fault with fuel lines, and earlier this month a JAL plane in Boston leaked before takeoff.

Industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp said Wednesday it was cooperating with investigators looking at the fuel leaks.

"Without speaking about either the incident or investigation, I can tell you that we do supply pumps and valves to the program,'' a spokeswoman said.

The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, carrying the first major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Washington, after the plane's arrival from Italy, April 24, 2007.The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, carrying the first major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Washington, after the plane's arrival from Italy, April 24, 2007.
x
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, carrying the first major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Washington, after the plane's arrival from Italy, April 24, 2007.
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, carrying the first major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Washington, after the plane's arrival from Italy, April 24, 2007.
The 787 program was already years behind schedule before last week's grounding, which means Boeing cannot deliver newly manufactured planes to customers. Boeing's chief 787 engineer, Mike Sinnett, told an aviation conference in Dublin he could not say when that would change.

"I can't really say anything about the timeframe of the investigation," Sinnett. "The NTSB is really the only authorized authority in the U.S. to talk about this investigation and they made some recent statements, but I can't speculate on timeframe,'' Sinnett said Wednesday in recorded remarks supplied to Reuters.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the country's top transportation official, said Wednesday the goal was to return the 787 to service as soon as possible but that the government would not rush the plane back either.

"We are working diligently with Boeing to figure out the problem and find a solution. Our goal is to get this done as quickly as possible, but we must be confident that the problems are solved before we can move forward,'' LaHood told the Aero Club of Washington, an aviation advocacy group.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, appearing at the same event, said the review was looking at the 787's certification, manufacturing and assembly processes, and that he could not speculate on an end date.

China Delays

Meanwhile, as deliveries of the cutting-edge passenger jet back up, a key Chinese customer lamented the delays and said its growth plans were being hampered by its inability to get the planes on time.

For at least one Chinese customer, the uncertainty about the Dreamliner's production and delivery schedule has meant delays in launching new routes.

"Frankly, it's a little disappointing the aircraft has been delayed so many times,'' said Chen Feng, chairman of Hainan Airlines Co Ltd parent HNA Group, in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We still think it's a good aircraft, but this has had some effect on our planning.''

Hainan has 10 of the planes on order.

The grounding of the Dreamliner, an advanced carbon-composite plane with a list price of $207 million, has already forced Japan's ANA to cancel 151 domestic and 26 international flights scheduled for Jan. 23-28, affecting more than 21,000 passengers, the airline said on Monday.

ANA, which flies the most Dreamliners of any airline, is due to announce further flight cancellation plans on Thursday.

Airbus Unscathed

Boeing has already delivered 50 of the 787s to date. Around half of those have been in operation in Japan, but airlines in India, South America, Poland, Qatar and Ethiopia, as well as United Airlines in the United States, are also flying the plane.

Boeing's main competitor, EADS, said on Wednesday it did not expect the problems with the 787 to affect the certification of its own rival plane, the Airbus A350.

"We will do what is needed to avoid the same problems,'' EADS strategy chief Marwan Lahoud told France's Radio Classic.

Airbus has said it hopes to achieve the maiden flight of the carbon-composite A350 by the middle of this year.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MRJ from: JPN
January 25, 2013 7:19 PM
Dramatic design change means some unknown failures are hedden. This is a brand new technology. Most important thing is to find its failure before serious damage.
I hope Boeing engineers would find the solution asap and improve thier design reliavility.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs