By Michael Northcott Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dreamliner reputation dives as Japan launches probe

Japan's transport ministry has joined the Dreamliner clamour with an investigation into faults found with the new plane in recent weeks.

The Japanese transport department has launched an investigation into Boeing’s new super-beasty 787 Dreamliner, after it suffered two fuel leaks last week.

These are not the only problems the new airliner has suffered: there has also been an electrical fire and a brake problem in the last couple of weeks. 

It’s not an ideal start for Boeing with its new physics-defying project. Shares in the company nosedived as the problems drew the whole world’s attention, and no doubt passenger confidence in the new jets took a hit, too. 

The US FAA has said that the aircraft is safe and there have been no major incidents so nothing to panic about just yet. The FAA  has launched a ‘special review’ into the Dreamliner’s design, manufacturing and assembly procedures however, just to err on the side of caution. 

But Japan’s transport ministry said: ‘Given the fuel leakage incidents occurred in succession, the minister directed the aviation director of the Regional Civil Aviation Bureau to open an investigation and find the causes of the two leaks as soon as possible.’ 

Japan Airlines owns one of the jets, and whilst the first fuel leak was being checked at Boston airport, another one started. Still, Japanese and US officials are going through a series of checks to make sure they cannot find any other faults.

To be fair to Boeing, this is one of the most complex and large-scale pieces of equipment ever made. It is also the first plan to be made of a carbon composite, which is much lighter than traditional aluminium and is designed to help save on fuel costs. 

Perhaps Boeing will be able to iron out all these teething problems pretty quickly. Investors who decided to hold will certainly be hoping so…

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