ANA’s Cracked 787 Window, Oil Leak Add to Boeing Woes
All Nippon Airways Co. (9202), the biggest operator of Boeing Co. (BA) 787 planes, said a Dreamliner cockpit window cracked during a flight today and another jet leaked oil, adding to a series of glitches the aircraft suffered this week.
ANA, as the Tokyo-based carrier is known, canceled a domestic flight from Matsuyama in western Japan to Tokyo after the plane’s window cracked during the previous flight, airline spokeswoman Megumi Tezuka said by telephone today. An oil leak was found when another 787 landed at Miyazaki airport, she said.
The U.S. is investigating a fire on a Japan Airlines Co. (9201) 787 in Boston this week that the National Transportation Safety Board said caused severe damage to the battery pack area of the plane. Another JAL Dreamliner flight was delayed the next day after fuel leaked from the jet, denting the plane’s image in a year when Boeing is set to double 787 production.
India’s aviation regulator is concerned about the problems being reported on the 787 and is waiting for the U.S. report, a civil aviation ministry official, who asked not to be identified citing government rules, said in New Delhi today. State-owned Air India Ltd. has six Dreamliners, the world’s first jet with a fuselage made chiefly of composite materials.
Air India is having the electrical system on one of the planes modified by Boeing, after the planemaker provided an “interim solution” to a fault detected in September. The planemaker has said it is “absolutely confident” in the reliability and performance of the Dreamliner.
A call to Boeing’s Tokyo office outside regular hours wasn’t answered.
ANA, which earlier had two cases of window cracks on 787s, is replacing the cockpit window after today’s incident, Tezuka said. The Dreamliner that had the oil leak at Miyazaki in southern Japan returned to Tokyo after inspections, she said.
Japan Airlines also had a cracked window on a 787 flight to Tokyo from New Delhi in October, Sze Hunn Yap, a spokeswoman at the carrier, said by telephone today. The flight returned to New Delhi to replace the window, she said.
ANA replaced windows on domestic Dreamliner flights on Dec. 18 and Dec. 24 after the previous two incidents, Tezuka said. The carrier also canceled a regional Dreamliner flight on Jan. 9, due to a glitch in the computer controlling the brakes.
The carrier has encountered four issues with the 787 that are specific to the Dreamliner since starting scheduled operations with the plane in November 2011, Tezuka said. The airline had cockpit computer error messages in the first six months of flying that led to delays and cancellations before being fixed by a Boeing software update in May, she said.
In March, the carrier had to check the tail wing, which revealed no problems. In July, an engine gearbox issue led to some delays and cancellations, according to Tezuka. The fourth main problem occurred in October with a leaking fuel pipe, which was replaced, she said.
Still, ANA’s 787 had a 93.8 percent on-time performance in its first year of operations, even with the glitches, matching the performance for the whole fleet, according to the airline. ANA ranked as the world’s most on-time international airline in 2011, according to FlightStats.
U.S. regulators plan to review the power system Boeing created for its 787 Dreamliner after the Japan Airlines fire on Jan. 7, a person familiar with the matter said. The 787’s design and manufacturing, which the FAA approved in 2011, will be part of the evaluation, the person said.
Flames about two feet (0.6 meter) high shot out of an avionics bay in the jet’s belly as the plane sat at a Logan International Airport gate before its next departure, and there was a small explosion, Massachusetts Port Authority Fire Chief Robert Donahue said.
This is a crucial year for the 787 as Chicago-based Boeing increases deliveries, trying to get out from under the weight of seven delays to the jet’s introduction that spanned more than three years. Boeing is set to double 787 production this year to help fill remaining orders for about 800.
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