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Large piece of 787 Dreamliner falls off in mid flight

October 18, 2013 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Boeing is investigating why a large panel in the underside of an Air India jet apparently fell off in mid flight. The panel, which measured 8 feet x 4 feet (2.4 metres by 1.2 meters, or roughly the size of a large house door) has not yet been found. 

The Dreamliner, flying from Delhi to Bangalore, landed safely. Media reports quoted by the BBC said the incident had placed some 150 passengers at grave risk but both Boeing and Air India said there was never any risk to passengers. Dreamliner panel goes missing (1)

“It was the mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the airplane on the right side,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder told Reuters news agency.

The part “provides a more aerodynamic surface in flight”, he said.

According to The Times of India newspaper, the flight crew did not realise that the panel was missing until after the flight landed.

The paper said that the Dreamliner involved was brand new. It was Air India’s ninth B787, which is awaiting certification to begin commercial flying.

The hole was described by some reports as gaping. The Times of India published a picture of it, which was soon circulating on the internet.

Air India was the first carrier to inaugurate Dreamliner service to Australia. Just last week, Qantas budget offshoot Jetstar received its first Dreamliner, with Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce expressing full confidence in the safety of the new aircraft

The 787 Dreamliner has suffered a series of technical and safety problems in recent months and the Air India problem is just the latest. Reports describe them as teething problems but the teething seems to be taking some time.

As one observer in the US pointed out recently, “the Dreamliner hasn’t been such a dream thus far”. Mechanical and electronic hitches, from overheating and fires to toilets failing en masse, have afflicted Dreamliners since their first flight.

An electrical glitch put six toilets out of action on a Japan Air Lines (JAL) B787 flight recently, leaving just one working. The plane turned back. The toilet anguish struck shortly after another of JAL’s B787s suffered a malfunction in one of its two anti-ice systems on a Tokyo-bound flight from San Diego.

In August, Boeing 787 Dreamliner turned back after a wiring defect was found in a fire extinguisher system on three of the new aircraft. The faulty wiring would have triggered the wrong extinguisher in the event of a fire breaking out in one of the plane’s two engines, ANA said.

Lithium-ion battery overheating problems grounded the entire Dreamliner fleet earlier this year.

In July, fire broke out on an empty Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow Airport. That blaze is suspected to have caused by another battery overheating – a lithium-manganese dioxide battery powering the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter.

If that fire had started over the ocean, the result could have been catastrophic. The blaze was in a difficult-to-reach space where fires can’t be extinguished by the plane’s automatic fire extinguishers, UK regulators said. Only one-third of airliners with such hidden fires can be expected to land safely.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. J says:

    India? Sure they didn’t just rip it off and sold it for scrap metal to make ends meet? (:-)

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