Safety of Boeing 787 Dreamliner questioned

JAL

SEATTLE, 10 Jan. 2013. Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft is again making headlines, this time related to its power electronics.

On Mon., 7 Jan. 2013, a battery in the auxiliary power unit is thought to have overheated and started a fire in the underbelly of a 787 operated by Japan Airlines (JAL) that was parked at Boston's Logan International Airport. A second 787, also operated by JAL and at the Boston Logan airport, was found to be leaking fuel the following day, Tues., 8 Jan. 2013. On 9 Jan. 2013, United Airlines personnel reported “improperly installed wiring in electrical components associated with the auxilliary power unit,” according to the The Wall Street Journal.  

"We're having what we would consider the normal number of ‘squawks’ on a new airplane, consistent with other new airplanes we've introduced," Boeing CEO James McNerney commented. The challenges associated with the 787 are said to be on part with those experienced upon the introduction of the Boeing 777, for examples. 

Some industry pundits claim such events are to be expected given the complexity of the Dreamliner and its avionics systems; further, the size of and past issues related to the airliner’s foreign and domestic supply chain are thought to have played a role in recent events.  

Still others speculate whether U.S. regulations, such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), played a role—such as standing in the way of delivering aircraft and avionics maintenance documents and parts to Japan Airlines personnel.

U.S. National Transportation Safety Board officials have opened a safety probe.

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