Friday, 11 January 2013

Further 787 problems

Previously I have written about the problems that Boeing had in getting their new passenger aeroplane, the 787, into service. The pane eventually made it into service over three years late, and at massive expense to Boeing.

The introduction of any new aeroplane will be subject to issues; their complexity is such that there will always be teething problems. Part of the aim of any design process is to try to anticipate and reduce these problems before they happen.

Sadly, the introduction of the 787 has been far from problem-free. Firstly there was a serious in-flight fire during the testing phase that contributed to the in-service delay. And since then there have been a series of other problems, several of which have occurred in the last week. There has been another fire, although fortunately when the plane was on the ground, a significant oil leak and a cracked windscreen. There have also been reports of incorrect wiring in some planes. There must have been a few sleepless nights in Seattle.

All of which are perhaps understandable problems - after all, the Airbus A380 has had problem of its own, from a grenading engine to structural wing cracks. But there appears to be more danger in Boeing's current woes. The problems appear to be much wider spread than the A380, and potentially much harder and expensive to fix. 

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration announced a review into the design and manufacture of the plane.Whilst this is unlikely to lead to a grounding, it cannot be helping Boeing's bottom line or order book.

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