More woes for the B787 Dreamliner as inspections reveal hairline cracks on wings


(Posted 08th March 2014)

An apparent manufacturing problem has prompted Boeing to inspect the wings of a number of B787 Dreamliner aircraft which have not yet been delivered to customers, as they search for evidence of hairline cracks.

From information received this affects some 42 aircraft and while no details have been given as yet as to the timeframe these inspections may require, the announcement has the alarm bells ringing in the headquarters of airlines expecting added deliveries or first time deliveries, as is the case right now with Kenya Airways which is expecting the arrival of this aircraft on the 04th of April.

The wings of the Dreamliner are made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and initially the alarm was raised by them that changes in the manufacturing process may have caused hairline cracks to appear, prompting an immediate reaction by Boeing with their now unfolding inspection process during which some cracks have reportedly been discovered already.

Neither Boeing nor any of the airlines expecting delivery in the very near future have made any further comments at this stage. Boeing has been attempting to crank up the assembly of the B787 to at least 10 aircraft a month but depending on the outcome and findings of the inspections, this target may be missed should major issue emerge and for instance replacement wings or key components of the wings be needed to eliminate the problems. The launch of the aircraft was dogged by technical challenges which delayed the delivery of the first jets by several years only to be followed by a global flight ban when the new and untested ION Lithium batteries began to malfunction, leading to overheating and in some cases fires, requiring a major fix by Boeing to prevent future such incidents. A B787 of Ethiopian then suffered fire damage from a malfunctioning beacon, triggering further inspections mandated by the FAA and other regulators. Industry observers claim that the B787 does not have any more teething problems than previous new aircraft models being introduced but that the omnipresence of social media information in today’s age simply makes the information available on a global basis while in times past only aviation personnel and specialized media got hold of such details and then by and large kept it to themselves to avoid alarming the general public.

In a related development is Kenya Airways due to receive 6 B787-8 Dreamliners this year according to information confirmed by the airline’s CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni last week with the first aircraft due in Nairobi on the 04th of April while neighbours Ethiopian Airlines too – they are already flying 5 of these aircrafts – is expecting more deliveries.

Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from Eastern Africa and the world at large.

One Response

  1. This quote from the above posting sums it up “Industry observers claim that the B787 does not have any more teething problems than previous new aircraft .” KQs late delivery of the B787 in a way is a blessing, because by the time KQ get them, there will be less to worry about and more to enjoy. Boing I must say is doing an excellent job in practicing their “due diligence.”

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