FAA to review Boeing 787 design and production

Following a series of electrical and fuel problems, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a review of 787 critical systems, including design, manufacture and assembly.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Jan. 10 that in light of a series of recent events, it will conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing (Chicago, Ill., USA) 787 critical systems, including design, manufacture and assembly. The purpose of the review is to validate the work conducted during the certification process and further ensure that the aircraft meets the FAA’s high level of safety.

Several 787s on the market have suffered electrical and fuel leak problems over the last few months, culminating in a battery fire aboard a Japan Airlines Co. 787 on Jan. 6 while it sat at the gate at Boston's Logan International Airport. No one was injured.

“The safety of the traveling public is our top priority,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future.”

A team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors will conduct this joint review, with an emphasis on the aircraft’s electrical power and distribution system. The review will also examine how the electrical and mechanical systems interact with each other.

“We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening," says FAA administrator Michael P. Huerta. "We are conducting the review to further ensure that the aircraft meets our high safety standards.”

The review will be structured to provide a broader view of design, manufacturing and assembly and will not focus exclusively on individual events. The review is expected to begin in Seattle, but may expand to other locations over the course of several months.

FAA technical experts logged 200,000 hours of work during the 787 type certification and flew on numerous test flights. The FAA reviews 787 in-service events as part of our continued operational safety process. United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes delivered. The worldwide in-service fleet includes 50 aircraft. 

Boeing chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney issued the following statement in response to the FAA's decision to conduct the review: "Boeing shares the same commitment to air travel safety that Transportation Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Huerta spoke of this morning in Washington, D.C. We also stand 100 percent behind the integrity of the 787 and the rigorous process that led to its successful certification and entry into service. We look forward to participating in the joint review with the FAA, and we believe it will underscore our confidence, and the confidence of our customers and the traveling public, in the reliability, safety and performance of the innovative, new 787 Dreamliner."