It seems Boeing is going on the defensive on the 787 project, with the company stating the plane is “100% Safe to Fly”.
In a conference call, Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP and 787 chief project engineer Mike Sinnett spoke to reporters during a Wednesday conference call from the company.
Due to the ongoing National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the JAL APU ground incident, Mr Sinett talked about the battery and the safeguards that are in place from posing a risk to a major incident being caused in flight. In technical terms, the APU has a 32 Volt Lithium Ion battery which acts as an electric starter, rather than an air turbine starter that exists in current designs.
Whilst the 787 has had a fair few reported issues, Mr Sinnetts says
“This is par for the course for any new airplane program. We are right where the 777 program was when it went into service.
Mr Sinnetts also states “We’re probably on the low side of the average” in regard for the number of problematic events occurring in a new commercial aircraft program.
He also states that none of the incidents raise a serious safety concern because Boeing has put many, many layers of protection in place so that any single failure—or even multiple failures—do not compromise the aircraft’s ability to fly, with redundant options on the 787.
Boeing States that there are 50 787 aircraft currently in service, and have logged over 1 million miles of flight since first flight of the class.
Mr Sinnetts states:
“We continue to have extreme confidence in the 787 airplane”
Whilst this is all well and good – and an effort to placate a press and the flying public, the aircraft is still very new and thus every day is a learning day with a 787. Whilst carriers are learning about it there seems to be too many mistakes being caught in the public eye.
No aircraft is perfect – sadly, many an incident a year puts pay to that notion, but what is more important is that both manufacturers and operators learn these mistakes, learn about them quickly – and ideally with no one aboard, and no casualties. Like the Airbus A380, this is truly a brand new aircraft, which is still shaking down into service after a few years – the 787 is a young whippersnapper in comparison with 15 months or so of actual commercial service.
To say there will be more bumps on the road as more 787’s take to the air is a given – its now down to Boeing and airlines to see how big these bumps are, and how they can be resolved safely.