CHICAGO (CBS) — There are more problems for Chicago-based Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner.
Federal regulators are ordering a comprehensive review of the critical systems of Boeing’s 787s, the aircraft maker’s newest and most technologically advanced plane, after a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the review will include the design, manufacture and assembly of the aircraft. Officials plan to detail the review at a news conference Friday morning.
Federal officials said there’s nothing to suggest the jets are not safe, but they want to determine why recent incidents with the planes have occurred.
The FAA’s order came after two more problems with 787s in Japan, including a small oil leak in one plane, and a cracked cockpit window in another.
CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said the Dreamliner is the most outsourced plane ever built. Boeing outsourced more of the manufacturing process for the 787 than any other aircraft.
“The real concern here is the oversight in the installation of the equipment; in the supervision of the work that led to that installation. And the FAA – if they don’t tell you, I will – does not have enough inspectors to do it,” he said. “So when you have a plane that is so outsourced, you’re not dealing with one production line, you’re dealing with dozens. And I think that’s what the FAA is going to be looking at right now.”
Greenberg and other industry analysts have been quick to point out that every commercial airliner has so-called “growing pains” in the beginning. The planes are still considered safe and the approximately 40 Dreamliners used worldwide will continue to fly during the FAA review.
The 787 relies more than any other modern airliner on electrical signals to help power nearly everything the plane does. It’s also the first Boeing plane to use rechargeable lithium ion batteries and to be made with lightweight composite materials.
A fire ignited Monday in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers.
“We are confident in the reliability and performance of the 787,” company spokesman John Dern said. “Boeing continues to work with the FAA and our customers to ensure we thoroughly understand issues related to the introduction of the plane into widespread service.”
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