Updated. The JAL Dreamliner has been flown back to Japan from Boston
One test of the Boeing rhetoric about the minor possibly ‘non fire’ fire that the company at one stage claimed hadn’t even happened to the Japan Air Line 787 at Boston in January is that the Dreamliner concerned was under repair until last weekend Australian time.
AirSafe in the US has written this up, and it revives one of the earliest questions asked about plastic composite laminated structures, which was how well can damage be detected and repaired.
Alloy structures that are damaged are easy to diagnose and repair. In normal operations aircraft do suffer ‘ramp rash’ of varying severity from mishaps with aerobridges and tugs and even the odd bump into adjacent aircraft.
But is the Boston incident telling 787 operators that heat damage is similarly difficult to assess? Or were the delays largely due to the ongoing NTSB investigation and unrelated to damage replacement?
Even if this was the real reason for the prolonged operations at Logan airport, it would be of concern to operators if what might be a straightforward remove and replace operation in a conventional airliner turned into a longer loss of revenue for a carbon fibre composite jet.
Given everything Boeing has said about how straightforward the super fire box solution to the battery fire issue is, why on earth would the JAL 787 have been so long in what looked like a field hospital?
The battery that caught fire and its connections were removed from the JAL aircraft early in the inquiry.
Is there something of more concern to the NTSB than just the battery in terms of the electrical system of the 787 at large? We have abundant reasons to be cautious about this given the lack of full and candid disclosure by Boeing.