An electrical fire and fuel leak drew headlines this week as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner continued its inauspicious debut. The issues affecting the plane have prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to launch a top-priority review of the aircraft. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the review will help the FAA "look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future." The design, manufacture and assembly of all critical systems will be reviewed.
According to the FAA press release, the review will focus on the plane's electrical system and on the quality controls used in making the aircraft. The head of the FAA stated in a press conference that the group is confident that the 787 Dreamliner is safe, but that the review is necessary to develop a complete understanding of what is happening. The FAA has been tracking electrical problems and operational glitches in the new aircraft for several months now. The battery fire in Boston on Monday was merely the latest incident.
Boeing officials reiterated their confidence in the reliability and performance of the 787 Dreamliner. According to a spokesperson, they are "working with the FAA" and with their customers to properly understand the issues that have arisen. Eight airlines currently fly the Boeing 787 and Boeing has been hoping to expand usage of the aircraft for long trans-ocean flights. The aircraft is currently restricted to a 180-minute certification by the FAA. It is unclear how this review will impact expanded FAA certification.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "FAA to Review Boeing 787s," by Andy Pasztor and Jon Ostrower, 11 January 2013