In 2013 Boeing was haunted by a string of 787 Dreamliner glitches, which have become less prevalent in 2014 but still affect 2% of flights, Mike Fleming, the company’s vice-president for 787 support and services, said in Olso, Norway.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, an airline that bought three Dreamliners and has had a series of Dreamliner glitches, is based in Olso. Four months ago the company expressed its frustration publicly and demanded that Boeing address the problems immediately and permanently.
Although the Dreamliner’s reliability is improving, it is still not satisfactory, Fleming said in a news conference. A 98% reliability rate is an improvement on 97% last year, he added, but still short of Boeing’s target.
“I’ll tell you that’s not where we want the airplane to be, we’re not satisfied with that reliability level of the airplane. The 777 today flies at 99.4 percent, and that’s the benchmark that the 787 needs to attain.”
“We introduced the 777 in 1995 and it was in the 1999 timeframe that we saw sustained performance over 99 percent in that fleet.”
“To get the fleet above 99 percent you have to keep working every day, so my guess is that it will be similar to what we had with the 777.”
Dreamliner glitches undermining the impact of a game-changing airplane
The Dreamliner came onto the market with much fanfare about its lighter body, state-of-the-art engines and 20% lower fuel consumption. It was seen as a game-changer for the aviation industry.
However, it has been riddled with problems:
- Earlier this month Japan Airlines reported that one aircraft had to be grounded because smoke was detected coming from a fault in the main battery. This was in 2014, after Boeing said it had resolved the battery problems.
- In November fifteen airlines were warned by Boeing about ice accumulation when its 727-8 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft flew near thunderstorms at high altitude.
- Last October Japan Airlines said it had to turn two aircraft around in mid-flight. In one plane six of the seven toilets became unusable due to an electrical problem, while in another the anti-ice systems stopped working. Another serious glitch meant that a Singapore-Tokyo bound June flight had to be turned around.
In January 2013, Boeing’s whole Dreamliner fleet had to be temporarily grounded after a fire broke out in another Japan Airlines plane. All Nippon Airways, a major Japanese airline, has also had several problems with the aircraft.
In 2013, an Ethiopian Airlines plane caught fire while stationary and empty at Heathrow airport in London. UK investigators said it had been caused by lithium-manganese dioxide batteries which powered an emergency locator transmitter.
Although Boeing says it has fixed its battery issues, airlines have reported problems with wing spoilers, brakes and electrical power components.
Video – Mike Fleming press conference in Oslo