Tags: Boeing | 787 | Japan | fuel-Leak

Boeing's 787 Woes Grow as Japan Air Aborts Flight on Fuel Leak

Tuesday, 08 Jan 2013 03:53 PM

 

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Japan Airlines Co. brought a Boeing Co. Dreamliner back to a Boston airport gate Tuesday when the jet leaked fuel while taxiing for takeoff to Tokyo, a day after a fire broke out on another 787 at the same airport.

About 40 gallons of fuel spilled onto the ground at Logan International Airport, and Flight 007 was towed to the terminal, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for airport operator Massport. Carol Anderson, a Japan Airlines spokeswoman, said the jet had a mechanical issue, though details hadn’t yet been confirmed.

Fuel leaks in November were traced to manufacturing errors, spurring Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to direct inspections and repairs, and Japan Airlines said Dec. 5 it had repaired its 787s. The Dreamliner entered service in late 2011 and has suffered several setbacks, including Monday’s fire after another Japan Airlines 787 landed from Tokyo.

“We’re aware of the issue and are working with our customer,” Julie O’Donnell, a spokeswoman at Boeing’s main 787 factory in Everett, Washington, said of Tuesday’s fuel leak.

The FAA said it’s looking into the leak, while the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board isn’t conducting an inquiry. The NTSB said that Monday’s blaze caused “severe” damage near a battery rack in an electronics bay.

No Linkage

“Nothing that we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events, which involved power panel faults elsewhere in the aft electrical equipment bay,” Lori Gunter, a Boeing spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Boeing shares fell Tuesday for a second day. Preliminary closing figures show the stock fell 2.6 percent to $74.13 in New York. More than 18.4 million shares had changed hands, four times the average daily volume.

This is a crucial year for the 787 as Chicago-based Boeing increases deliveries and production, trying to get out from under the weight of seven delays to the plane’s introduction that spanned three and a half years. The shares are down 28 percent since the first delay in October 2007.

“Unfortunately the aircraft is known now for its problems, not for the performance it delivers and the enhanced safety features,” said Michel Merluzeau, an analyst with G2 Solutions in Kirkland, Washington.

Tuesday’s Boston-to-Tokyo Japan Airlines flight was due to depart at noon and was listed as delayed on the airline’s website as of 3 p.m. local time. A call to Japan Airlines for comment on the status of Flight 007 wasn’t immediately returned.

United Inspections

United Continental Holdings Inc. inspected all six of its 787s overnight following yesterday’s Japan Airlines fire, said Mary Ryan, a spokeswoman. She declined to reveal the results and said Chicago-based United continues to work with Boeing on the 787’s reliability.

United canceled both the inbound and outbound Los Angeles-Tokyo flights Monday that were supposed to have been flown with a 787 and used a different aircraft, said Ryan, who declined to give a reason for the cancellations. Those flights were being flown with Dreamliners Tuesday, she said.

In Monday’s incident, a mechanic noticed smoke as he walked through the jet after passengers had disembarked from their flight from Tokyo. The smoke was traced to a fire from the battery used for the auxiliary power unit, Japan Airlines said in a statement. The NTSB and FAA are investigating.

Battery Checks

All Nippon Airways Co., the initial operator of the 787, received a communication from Japan’s transport ministry to check the batteries on all its 787s and planned to do so today, said a spokesman, Ryosei Nomura.

GS Yuasa Corp. made the lithium ion battery on the 787 and is cooperating with the investigation, said Tsutomu Nishijima, a spokesman for the Kyoto-based company. GS Yuasa isn’t aware of the reason for the fire, he said.

An in-flight fire in an avionics bay in 2010 forced the 787 test fleet to be parked for six weeks and added six months to the delay of the plane’s entry into service while engineers rewrote electricity-distribution software. That fire was traced to debris in an electrical panel, which is in the same bay under the cabin as the batteries in question.

Last month, electrical faults forced United and Qatar Airways Ltd. to ground 787s. The plane is the first commercial airliner made chiefly of composite materials, instead of aluminum, and with an all-electric power system that uses five times as much electricity as other, similar jets.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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