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Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Dreamliners get more attention, says Boeing

Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787 - the -9 variant, under construction at the Boeing factory near Seattle, Washington. Photo / Grant Bradley
Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787 - the -9 variant, under construction at the Boeing factory near Seattle, Washington. Photo / Grant Bradley

The head of Boeing's 787 development programme says the "laser focus" on Dreamliner incidents since battery problems is putting the plane under more scrutiny than other new aircraft.

Vice president of 787 airplane development Mark Jenks said the reliability of the Dreamliner was on a par with Boeing's 777 in its early days, a plane which has gone on to be extremely popular with airlines.

"It kind of goes with the business because we've had a few of these issues it's just made everyone laser focussed on the programme," he told the first group of journalists to see Boeing's new model of the Dreamliner on the factory floor in Everett near Seattle.

"We see things that are very typical for airplanes operating in a fleet but with the 787 and the additional scrutiny right now it gets a lot more air play."

Jenks, who has been with the 787 programme since its inception more than a decade ago said the smouldering battery issues which led to the grounding of 50 aircraft around the world had been resolved.

"Obviously the grounding itself had a big impact on those customers who were flying - having gotten through that the feedback has been positive,"said.

While the lithium-ion battery problems have been resolved to the satisfaction of regulators and airlines the plane is under intense scrutiny and relatively minor faults are now reported widely.

At the weekend (NZT) a United Airlines 787 Dreamliner flying from Houston to Denver had to return to the Texan city because of was diverted due to an issue with the brake indicator, CNN reported.

The plane landed without incident with no passenger injuries.

Last Tuesday, another United Airlines 787 flight from Denver to Tokyo, was diverted to Seattle because of a problem with its oil filter.

"We see things that are very typical for airplanes operating in a fleet but with the 787 and the additional scrutiny right now it gets a lot more air play," said Jenks.

The recent incidents follow years of delays due to design and manufacturing problems but these had been ironed out and Boeing was assembling between seven and 10 Dreamliners a month and would later this year test the next model, the 787-9 for which Air New Zealand is the launch customer.

"This manufacturing line is fully functioning and we're pumping out airplanes," he said.

Grant Bradley travelled to Seattle courtesy of Boeing and Air NZ.

- NZ Herald

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