Dreamliner glitches, complaints from Norway

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a budget airline has complained of a string of glitches in its two Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger airplanes.

The Scandinavian airline says it is getting fed up with so many Dreamliner glitches and is demanding that Boeing address the problems immediately and permanently.

Norwegian Air Shuttle’s most recent problem occurred at Bangkok airport, when a Dreamliner hydraulic pump failed earlier this week. The plane was left at Bangkok and passengers had to board an Airbus A340, leased from HiFly.

One of Norwegian Air Shuttle’s Dreamliner’s has been taken out of long-haul service. Until Boeing manages to eliminate all the Dreamliner glitches and guarantee the airplane’s reliability, the airline says it will carry on using the Airbus A340.

In an interview with Reuters, Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, a spokesman for Norwegian Air Shuttle said “The aircraft’s reliability is simply not acceptable, our passengers cannot live with this kind of performance. We are taking it out of long-haul service.”

Dreamliner glitches

Since coming onto the market, the Dreamliner (Boeing 787) has been involved in several incidents and operational problems. Frequent Business Traveller quoted James McNerney, Boeing CEO, who said in December 2012, “We’re having what we would consider the normal number of squawks on a new airplane, consistent with other new airplanes we’ve introduced.”

On January 8th, 2013, a Japan Airlines 787 experienced a fuel leak and had to cancel its departure from Boston.

On January 9th 2013, United Airlines detected a problem in the wiring near the main batteries in one of its six Dreamliners.

These two incidents were followed by a safety probe by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Japan Airlines reported a cracked cockpit a few days later.

On January 13th, 2013, Japan Airlines said a fuel leak was detected during an inspection at Narita International Airport, Tokyo. This was the same plane that had had a fuel leak on January 8th in Boston. However, this time the leak was caused by a different defective valve.

At Heathrow Airport, London, a fire started in an empty Ethiopian Airline Dreamliner. Rescue services put it out and there were no injuries. The plane suffered extensive damage due to the fire. Inspectors could not initially find a direct link between the fire and the aircraft’s main batteries. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that the fire was caused by lithium-manganese dioxide batteries powering an emergency locator transmitter.

On January 16th, 2013, there was a battery problem warning followed by a burning smell in an ALL Nippon Airways (ANA) Dreamliner as it left Ube airport, Tokyo. The plane was diverted to Takamatsu and passengers were evacuated via the slides. Three of them received minor injuries during the evacuation. Inspectors reported that there had been a battery fire.

On January 16th 2013 both JAL and ANA grounded all their Dreamliner fleet.

On January 16th, 2013, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grounded all Boeing 787s (Dreamliners) until modifications were made to the electrical system to reduce overheating or fire risk. This was the first time an airliner had been grounded in 34 years. By the end of the following day, aviation authorities around the world also grounded all Boeing 787s.

On July 26th 2013, ANA reported damage to wiring in two Dreamliner locator beacons. During the same month, United Airlines said it found a pinched wire in one locator beacon.

On August 14th 2013, a fire extinguisher fault was found in three ANA planes. The error was traced to the supplier.

Also in August, JAL reported that the Aft Electronics Bay that held the battery caught fire in one of its Dreamliners.

In September 2013, LOT, Poland’s flagship carrier said it had to delay some of its Dreamliner flights after inspections found the planes lacked gas filters.

Many airlines had high hopes for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Airlines around the world had hoped to capitalize on the Boeing 787s lower operating costs, lighter weight and 20% fuel savings.

However, with Norwegian Air Shuttle’s more than half-a-dozen breakdowns this month, and other problems reported in 2013 in various parts of the world, airlines are becoming concerned.

The Norwegian airline started off with two Dreamliners, and had planned to increase the fleet to eight. Will they have the confidence to pursue that plan, or will they organize a re-think?

According to the Wall St. Journal, Boeing shares were trading 0.8% down on Friday. Over the last 12 months, Boeing share prices have ranged from $69.18 to $120.38.