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Dec 6, 2012

Dreamliner 787 safety checks are 'no big deal' so far

Dreamliner emergency landing and compulsory inspections for fuel leaks are two separate but 'ho hum' hiccups typical of the early operations of a new type of airliner.

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There is, as some media reports have said, nothing unusual about a new type of airliner being the subject of safety checks reinforced by an airworthiness directive in the first year or so of commercial service, which is the case this week with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

However the reports, spurred on by the emergency landing of a United Airlines 787 only days after it had entered service have often blurred separate issues. The FAA has issued the AD over the risk of incorrectly installed fuel line connectors that could lead to a fire, after the fault had been discovered during an inspection by All Nippon Airways of one of the jets.

The United incident has been described as a concern the pilots had with indications of a possible electrical problem in the rear underfloor section of the jet, but after landing no sign of a fire or other damage was found.

The two unrelated issues are dealt with in this Reuter’s story, which appears to have been too complicated for some newspapers or sites.

It is now more than a year since the high composite or reinforced plastic Dreamliner began service, although deliveries have been slowed by remedial work that Boeing has been performing on the early examples of the jet where they had been substantially assembled before the need to make various modifications have become apparent during the flight testing and certification process.

Most early reports about the 787 in service have been less than enthusiastic from a passenger perspective, with the spacious cabins that featured in Boeing presentations replaced by the reality of its being just another jet stuffed full of too many tiny seats by airliners responding to fierce price cutting and the high cost of fuel.

The first scheduled 787 service in Australia is now expected to be flown by Qatar Airways between Perth and Doha late this month, with China Southern also operating early build 787-8s between Guangzhou and Sydney or Melbourne early next year, well before Jetstar begins flying them with a 313 seat high density configuration late in the year on routes yet to be confirmed.

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