US federal regulators are ordering aÂ comprehensive review of Boeing’s brand-new fleet of 787 Dreamliners, after aÂ string of scares struck the state-of-the-art passenger jet in aÂ week.
The Federal Aviation Administration finally launched the probe after a crack appeared in a cockpit window during aÂ domestic All Nippon Airways flight inÂ Japan today.
The review is an embarrassing setback to theÂ plane that was heralded as the future of aviation, after four separateÂ malfunctions occurred this week alone, including a brake failure, a fuel leakÂ and an on-board fire.
The FAA says the review will include theÂ design, manufacture and assembly of the aircraft.
Speaking of today’s incident, ANA said crewÂ noticed a spider web-like crack in a window in front of the pilot’s seat aboutÂ 70 minutes into Friday’s flight, which was close to its destination.
‘Cracks appear a few times every year inÂ other planes. We don’t see this as a sign of a fundamental problem’ with BoeingÂ aircraft, a spokesman for the airline said.
The 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner,Â relies more than any other modern airliner on electricalÂ signals to help powerÂ nearly everything the plane does.
It is also the first Boeing plane to useÂ rechargeable lithium ion batteries and to be made with lightweight compositeÂ materials.
More than 800 have been sold to airlinesÂ around the world, which Boeing hasÂ said will be more fuel efficient thanÂ comparable jets and moreÂ comfortable for passengers.
But the Dreamliner has flown under aÂ cloudÂ since its maiden voyage on in October 2011, which itself saw repeated delaysÂ lasting more than three years after a slew of faults were detected.
On Wednesday, All Nippon Airlines was forcedÂ to cancel a domestic flight to Tokyo after a computer wronglyÂ indicated aÂ problem with the 787’s brakes.
On Tuesday, a fuel leak forcedÂ a 787 operated by Japan AirlinesÂ to cancel takeoff at Boston’s LoganÂ International Airport.
And a day before that,Â another Dreamliner caught fire after dropping off 183 passengers and crew fromÂ Tokyo at Boston when a battery in the jet’s auxiliary power system overheated.
Nobody was hurt as passengers and crew hadÂ already disembarked.
But those were not the only issues that haveÂ blemished the much-vaunted launch of air travel’s latest addition.
In December UnitedÂ Airlines’ brand-new Dreamliner, carrying 174 passengers and 10 crew, was forcedÂ to make anÂ emergency landing in New Orleans due to a mechanicalÂ issue.
In the same month,Â Qatar Airways grounded one of its Dreamliners afterÂ several similar faultsÂ caused electrical problems.
But the airline’s image has been besieged byÂ a string of other problems that began long before its inauguralÂ flight.
In July last year, debris from a brand-newÂ Dreamliner’s engine sparked aÂ fire at a South Carolina airport forcingÂ emergency crews to close theÂ Charleston International Airport for more than anÂ hour.
An investigation by the NationalÂ Transportation Safety Board uncovered cracks inÂ the forward end of a fan midshaft in one of its engines.
And an incident in February 2012 saw BoeingÂ report signs of ‘delamination’ occurring on a support structure in theÂ Dreamliner’s rear fuselage, launching an inspection.
It is the first large-scale commercialÂ aircraft made 50 per cent from ‘compositeÂ materials’ including plastics and carbon fibre and experts believe it couldÂ bring an end to the ‘aluminium age’.
Source: The Daily Mail