The review, which was initiated by the FAA after a battery fire
aboard a 787 in Boston in January 2013, encompassed the entire
plane, not specifically the battery issue.
"They found that the 787 met its intended level of safety. The
plane's fundamentally sound design and the processes the FAA and
Boeing had in place to detect and correct issues that emerged were
the underpinnings for that conclusion," FAA Administrator Michael
Huerta told a telephone news briefing.
He said the review team did find some problems with Boeing's
manufacturing process and the way the FAA oversees it. He said the
agency was "moving quickly to address those problems."
The recommendations called for the FAA to improved its oversight of
Boeing's parts suppliers, including those outside the United States,
and urged the company "to ensure suppliers are fully aware of their
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner welcomed
the review and said the company had already taken significant steps
to implement the recommendations.
"The findings validate our confidence in both the design of the
airplane and the disciplined process used to identify and correct
in-service issues as they arise," Conner said in a statement.
Richard Aboulafia, analyst with the Virginia-based Teal Group, said
he remained concerned that Boeing's drive to extract cost savings
from suppliers on its new 777-X aircraft would add risk to that
program, much as its work on the 787 was initially delayed by its
over-reliance on development work by suppliers.
By threatening to put suppliers on a "no fly" list if they did not
agree to significant cost reductions, he said, Boeing was
restricting its ability to choose among proven suppliers.
"Their drive to keep costs down on the 787 led them to spread risk
to suppliers, and here the drive to keep costs down on the 777-X is
leading them to make short-sighted sourcing decisions," he said.
The Boston fire on the 787 and another battery incident in Japan
several days later prompted regulators to ground the 787 for 3-1/2
months last year. The batteries are made by Japanese firm GS Yuasa
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The plane has also suffered a series of mishaps with fuel line,
brakes, electrical panels, hydraulics, and other systems.
Boeing redesigned the lithium-ion battery, charger and
containment system to ensure battery fires would not put the plane
at risk, and the Dreamliner was returned to service.
Two months ago, however, a battery aboard a Japan Airlines <9201.T>
Dreamliner emitted white smoke and showed signs of melting in an
incident at a Tokyo airport.
The battery issues are still being investigated by the U.S. National
Transportation Safety Board.
The 250-seat Dreamliner, launched in 2004, is built with
carbon-fiber composite materials and a powerful electrical system to
reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency. It was more than three
years late to enter service after issues with parts.
The latest problem emerged two weeks ago when Boeing said "hairline
cracks" had been found in the wings of about 40 787 Dreamliners
being built. Wing-maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd <7011.T>
notified Boeing in February of the problem.
A total of 115 Dreamliners are in service at 16 carriers. United
Airlines <UAL.N> is the only U.S. carrier to fly the 787.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal;
editing by Doina Chiacu, Sandra Maler and Nick Zieminski)
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