Will passengers trust the Dreamliner?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

UPDATE 23 April
Well the Dreamliner will re-enter service once the modifications have been made. But Boeing still doesn’t know what caused the problem. If they don’t know that, how will they know the problem is fixed? Am I too cynical in believing that Boeing can’t afford the Dreamliner to fail so they have done as much as they can in the hope that this minimises any problem rather than curing it? And regulators have abetted this fudge by allowing it to fly again.
UPDATE 15 March
It looks as though a fix has been found for the battery issue. The problem is it looks like Boeing still doesn’t know what caused the problem. Now we await a date for the dreamliner to fly again

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is being heralded as the world’s most up-to-date aeroplane. Its innovative structure will cut-down on carbon emissions, it will be quieter and it will be more economic for airlines to operate. If it ever gets properly into service.
After some issues with fire in the batteries, the plane was grounded worldwide and the cause investigated. Last week a large, 500 page interim report from the US National Transportation Safety Board has been issued which said precious little! Despite the brains involved in trying to understand the problem, they just don’t know. Different airlines have suggested different causes none of which is proven. So the Dreamliner remains grounded costing Boeing and the airlines (including Thomson) that had planned to fly them tens of millions of pounds.
The saga behind the attempts to get this plane from drawing board to commercial service has been lengthy. Since the first one made test flights there have been problems. Interested readers can click here for a summary of the situation called “A Dream and a Fear” written by Clive Summerfield for The UK Today
But when it comes into service will passengers want to fly in it? I know some aircraft engineers who refuse to fly on any twin engine plane. Some passengers prefer Airbus to Boeing believing they have more room overall despite the seat configuration chosen by the individual airlines. Some are getting wary of the Jumbo 747 because the design has been around since I was a youth despite the many modifications and updates.
But I think what is more concerning – because eventually the Dreamliner will fly and be as safe as most aircraft – is the fact that technical boffins have yet to find the reason for the fires and secondly because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US virtually told Boeing to get on with it and self-certify what it was doing. According to the Seattle Times (where Boeing has much of its factories) back in 2009 the office that the FAA set up to check Boeing consisted of eight people. this laxness shouldn’t happen with the development of any aircraft.
Boeing says testing has included 50,000 flight hours plus two million hours testing on the ground and no fire problems with the batteries were found. Looks like the testing process isn’t adequate or this would have been picked up.
Now this plane will be linked in the minds of passengers for a while yet that it is just an unsafe aircraft. And when it starts flying again, the media will be quick to remind readers of the problems

Image © Boeing

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