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Transportation Government

FAA To Investigate 787 Dreamliner 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-if-you-like-really-exciting-airplane-rides dept.
Dupple sends word from the BBC that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting a safety review of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after a number of incidents have called the aircraft's hardiness into question. "An electrical fire, a brake problem, a fuel spill and cracks in the cockpit's windshield have affected Dreamliner flights in the past week. ... The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of the most advanced aeroplanes ever created. Much of it is made from very strong, light carbon-fibre composite material. However, a spate of technical issues has hurt its image. On Friday, two new problems were found, adding to Boeing's woes." A spokesman for Boeing said they were "absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787," and were cooperating fully with the FAA's investigation. The 787 went into service in 2011, and 50 have been delivered to various airlines since then, with hundreds more on order. Qatar Airways has received five of them, and it has criticized Boeing for manufacturing faults.
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FAA To Investigate 787 Dreamliner

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  • by Liquidretro (1590189) on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:05AM (#42558379)
    I wonder if the manufacturing and quality problems has anything to do with the change on this plane that it is made all over the world, by tons of suppliers, then all moved to a common location for final assembly. This is a departure from the way Boeing has done manufacture in the past where most things are done under one roof.
  • Not good enough. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:11AM (#42558455) Journal

    It seems that most revoloutionary aircraft have nearly sunk the parent company. The 787 hasn't come close to sinking Boeing, so one can conclude that it's not good enough.

    Sillyness aside, new aircraft always have teeting problems (the A380 blew up an engine during flight) and this is a particularly new and unusual aircraft. So, expect lots of teeting problems.

    They'll probably be great when all those are ironed out.

    That said, I've never seen an explanation as to how to do the equivalent of replacing a skin panel when the skyfood loading truck reverses into the plane.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:14AM (#42558503)

    Possibly. But a lot of cars are built that way too, and while a process change for a business invariably has kinks to work out, that doesn't mean the move was the wrong one. Boeing was hemmoraging cash up until recently, and this switchover may save them a lot of money at the cost of some run-up problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:18AM (#42558537)

    The really new technology is the carbon fibre used in the aircraft. Not seen any reports of faults with that yet though.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:19AM (#42558553)

    Possibly. But a lot of cars are built that way too

    True, but note that in fact there are many many "recalls" for critical problems with autos every year. Yet there is a difference between an auto traveling on a surface road with 2 or 6 passengers, and a jet at 30,000 with 200 passengers. When one catches fire, it's going to be a little more catistropic than the other...

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:32AM (#42558717)

    Actually, several months of the original 787 delay was down to the IAM union strike in 2008 which shut down the Seattle FAL (although the strike lasted just 8 weeks, the FAL took 3 months to come back up to speed) - the SC FAL was only chosen and built after this strike.

  • Re:Not good enough. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:33AM (#42558735) Homepage Journal

    Indeed, I was stationed at Dover when the first C5-As were rolled out. You wouldn't believe the trouble they had... landing gear not coming up/down, engines falling off, fires, hell even one of the giant cranes that serviced the aircraft's tailsection fell over at another base and killed two guys, grounding the whole fleet of C5s for a few weeks.

    A year or two later they pretty much had all the bugs ironed out. After that the worst that happened was one poor guy I worked with was towing one and hit a hangar door with a wing and did ten million dollars worth of damage (he got off the hook, the wing walker got the blame).

  • Stating the obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:53AM (#42559015)

    A spokesman for Boeing said they were "absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787,"

    Why do they ever bother with these quotes - what else are they expected to say? As Mandy Rice Davies once said when asked to comment about a Lord denying he had anything to do with her, "Well, he would, wouldn't he"

  • Re:Not good enough. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:04PM (#42559133)
    Back in the day my friend's dad used to fly 707's (yes, it's a very old story) and whilst taxiing, they managed to gouge a chunk out a wing. This was at a US airport. They needed to get the plane to Australia to get the replacement wing so they moved the plane somewhere quiet at the airport and duct taped up the wing. They were told to be careful no one saw what they were up to. They then had to take off at night when it was quiet so no one could spot the bodged up wing.
    .
    My friend's dad was good at that sort of thing. Another time he lost 2 of the 4 engines flying over the UK and was told to dump most of his av-gas to lighten the load so he could land in France for repairs. That involved opening valves that let the gas pour out over the wings. It was bad enough he dumped most of his fuel over a populated area (nice, greasy, thanks mate) but he also had to do it in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. He got struck twice whilst doing the dumping. Amazingly, he and the plane survived to fight another day,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:41PM (#42559543)

    I wonder if the manufacturing and quality problems has anything to do with the change on this plane that it is made all over the world, by tons of suppliers, then all moved to a common location for final assembly.

    I think an even bigger problem is the way that the engineering was outsourced (whether domestic or foreign outsourcing). Even Boeing management eventually admitted they screwed the pooch on that one. In many cases subcontractors that were capable of manufacturing good parts were suddenly given the responsibility of designing them - an area where they had little expertise. There was also poor coordination between Boeing and these subcontractors. The only way they got this pig up in the air is by finally bringing in a bunch of engineers who had deep expertise in designing airliners. Surprisingly they found almost all of them at a company called "Boeing". Perhaps they should have used that company's engineering services all along.

    Many of the mistakes made in the 787 design were downright amateurish, such as improper design of the wing attachment points (and extremely critical part of the design that Boeing had figured out decades ago). Though they got enough of these biggies out of the way to get certification, it doesn't surprise me that there are still lots of "little" problems left over.

  • Re:Not good enough. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:51PM (#42559659)

    Fuel dump evaporates before it hits the ground.

    Fair enough but what's all the greasy residue you get all over your house, car etc if you live near an airport? General exhaust gunk?

  • Reversion to mean (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjbe (173966) on Friday January 11, 2013 @03:10PM (#42561287)

    Granted, I've never even worked in a union myself

    Nor have I but I'd dealt directly with them almost daily at times. I've had wrenches thrown at me because I dared to produce a stopwatch. (I'm an industrial engineer - that's what we do) I don't hate unions but I think they've forgotten their real purpose and have become far too adversarial with the companies.

    But honestly, if a German union and all its workers were suddenly transported here, with all the time off and other benefits they receive, can you imagine anything but mortal conflict with US management?

    The benefits any pay for workers in certain unions such as the UAW are second to none. I've seen guys with no college degree who make upwards of $80-100K+ for an assembly line job. Until very recently average wages of a GM worker was $39.69/hour [yahoo.com] and benefits tacked another $33.58/hour on top of that. We're not talking about specialty skilled labor here either. Guys with little to no special skills used to be able to get jobs that paid far better than the requirements of the job dictated. That has proven to be unsustainable.

    Blue collar America has taken an incredible beating with a huge decline in standard of living over the last 30 years, today's auto workers are lucky to make half of what their fathers did.

    Their fathers got a deal that was out of line with what could actually be sustained by the profits of the companies. Blue collar america is simply experiencing a reversion to the mean. They've had a good run for a while and now the bill has come due.

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