Website    News    Legislation    Help! I’m Stranded    Media    Contact
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner: 
Should The Jet Be Flying?
By Gary Stoller
Despite new government concerns about the safety of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft, airlines haven’t stopped flying the problem-plagued wide-body aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced last month in an airworthiness directive all electrical power can shut down-and a pilot could lose control-if a 787 jet is continuously powered for 248 days. A software problem can cause the generator control units to “simultaneously”go into ‘fail-safe modes,”shutting down the electrical power, the FAA said.
The agency said it was immediately issuing the directive-without issuing notice of its proposed rule making or asking for public comment-because “an unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of this airworthiness directive.”  The FAA said the problem was found by Boeing during laboratory tests, and the aircraft manufacturer is developing a software upgrade “that will address the unsafe condition.” President Paul Hudson says the entire 787 fleet should be grounded until at least the temporary fix is implemented. The FAA, Boeing and some other safety experts say such action is unnecessary.
“Any problem that could cause an airliner to become uncontrollable needs to be fixed before the aircraft is allowed to fly,”Hudson says. “The FAA should ground each and every 787 until the airline or Boeing certifies that the temporary fix contained in the airworthiness directive has been applied.”
Hudson, who is also a member of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, says “The FAA and other national air safety authorities should require that Boeing has the permanent fix it has promised by late 2015 delivered, installed and independently tested.” 
Boeing, which has delivered 271 787s to its customers since delivery began four years ago, says it is working on the software problem, and a fix should be ready in this year’s fourth quarter.
The FAA says grounding all 787s isn’t required, because it is “unlikely”that an airline “would maintain continuous electrical power on the four main generator control units for 248 days.”  
Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman says all 787s in service “already have performed a power off/power on cycle in the course of performing maintenance activities,”eliminating “the extremely low risk of all six generators aboard the airplane losing power at the same time.”
Former National Transportation Safety Board member John Goglia says he is unaware of any aircraft being powered up for 248 consecutive days. He says power is “routinely removed”during a pre-flight check of an aircraft’s electrical system.
“I do not believe grounding the planes is necessary,”he says. “I think the risk to the traveling public is extremely low.”
Aviation consultant John Cox says the FAA’s directive was “a conservative approach to the problem,”and “there is no reason to consider grounding the airplane.”
Past aircraft groundings involved “a proven issue,”says Cox, a former airline pilot who was the top safety official for the Air Line Pilots Association union. “This is a case of a potential issue that has an effective mitigation.”
Cox says he would fly on a 787 “without hesitation”and let his family fly on the aircraft “without a second thought.”
Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group representing U.S. airlines, says Boeing informed the group on April 20 after lab tests discovered the software problem.
Airlines “work in close coordination with FAA, Boeing and other stakeholders to maintain the highest level of safety for our customers, employees and aircraft,”Day says.
According to Boeing data, 31 customers-airlines and leasing companies-have received delivery of 787s since 2011. United Airlines operates 787 jets, and American Airlines began flying 787s this month. Delta Air Lines has deferred delivery of its order of 18 787 aircraft until 2020.
As of April 15, 2015, Boeing data reveals, 787 Dreamliner aircraft have flown 238,223 passenger flights worldwide and carried an estimated 44.4 million passengers since they began flying
The 787s’ recent software problem is the latest concern in a series of problems with the plane’s electrical system. In 2013, the FAA grounded all 787s for four months after two lithium-ion batteries overheated on two aircraft. It was the agency’s first grounding of an aircraft fleet since DC-10 jets were grounded in 1979.
In one 787 incident at Boston’s Logan airport in January 2013, firefighters worked 40 minutes to put out a blaze after the plane’s lithium-ion battery caught fire. Passengers had departed from the Japan Air Lines plane before the fire started.
Two weeks later, an All Nippon Airways 787 made an emergency landing, and passengers were evacuated after another lithium-ion battery caught fire. The 787 is the first aircraft type to make extensive use of such batteries to power its electrical systems.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the fire at Logan airport was an internal short circuit within a cell of the auxiliary power unit’s lithium-ion battery. The NTSB cited Boeing for a design failure and the FAA for failing to notice the design failure when it certified the plane.
Delivery of the first 787 jet was delayed about three years by various production problems. The problems included an electrical fire that broke out on a 787 test flight in 2010, halting certification flights for a few months.
Last year, the FAA approved an exemption that allowed Boeing to deliver to airlines its newest-model 787 jet, the 787-9, although two components, including the ram air turbine, didn’t meet federal regulations. The FAA said it approved the exemption, because it was improbable that all six power generators would fail simultaneously.
The agency last year also approved the 787-9’s predecessor, the twin-engine 787-8, to operate on overwater routes that fly up to 330 minutes from a landing field. Previously, the 787-8 was limited to routes of 180 minutes from a landing field.
Hudson says the FAA’s approval jeopardizes passenger and flight-crew safety.
“The FAA has dangerously allowed the 787 to fly up to 5 1/2 hours from the nearest landing zone, even after battery fires and numerous other operational incidents required grounding or emergency landings,”Hudson says.
“This mistake needs correction by restricting flights over water to three hours or less from the nearest landing zone until the 787 establishes a track record of trouble-free operations for at least three years-as is required for most other two-engine aircraft.” 
( commissioned independent aviation safety journalist, Gary Stoller, to write about the government’s recent safety concerns with Boeing’s 787 aircraft. had no editorial control over the following article.)
Open Skies Policy 
Creates U.S. Jobs
By Kevin Mitchell
U.S. communities that have lost jobs and connectivity to global business and leisure destinations – because of consolidation engineered by the “Big Three” U.S. carriers (Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines) – support Open Skies policy and foreign-carrier entry. 
In 2000, major U.S. carriers flew 3,732 planes versus 3,434 in 2013, a 9 percent decline. Airline employment dropped by 150,000. 
Now, as Labor raises concerns about Gulf carriers and employment are they blind to the fact that the “capacity discipline” now preached by the Big Three is a major reason there are fewer jobs? 
If it costs 800 jobs each time a U.S. carrier doesn’t launch a flight due to Gulf carrier competition, as alleged by the Big Three, does Delta voluntarily give away 800 U.S. jobs each time it defers to Air France to launch flights Delta would operate itself but for the joint venture agreement?
Open Skies policy and foreign airline entry have ameliorated this airline-industry-job contraction since 2000 by supporting millions of travel and tourism jobs. For example, Emirates announced daily service from Dubai to Orlando that will create 1,460 jobs and pump $100 million into Central Florida’s economy. Overall, the economic impact from foreign visitors to Orlando is estimated at $2 billion a year. 
Likewise, Dallas/Fort Worth airport values Gulf carrier flights at $600 million in annual economic benefit. For perspective, the Big Three employ 250,000 while travel and tourism employs 15 million. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the aerospace and all-cargo industries are similarly tied to Open Skies policy. The Big Three’s gambit recklessly places the Open Skies job-engine at risk.
The Administration should be applauded for emplacing a thoughtful, deliberative process to consider the views of all stakeholders as well as broader geopolitical and trade ramifications. However, as evidenced by the Big Three’s desperate Capitol Hill campaign, they want a rush to judgment that (a) ignores all interests but their self-interest in less competition, (b) denies the Gulf carriers fundamental American fairness to have a meaningful opportunity to respond to allegations against them, (c) disregards the interest of consumers and the consequences for them of less competition and choice and (d) ignores potential aviation and non-aviation related collateral costs of what the Big Three are demanding.
The American model for aviation market liberalization has been embraced worldwide. The U.S. Open Skies brand has been jealously guarded and is now being tarnished. The threat is not that agreements would be cancelled. Rather, should the U.S. seek consultations with Gulf partners, the only reason likely accepted by the rest of the world would be to protect the Big Three, the most powerful airlines on the planet.
Airlines worldwide would observe this protectionism, and abdication of American leadership, and seek their own advantages in renegotiated Open Skies agreements with the U.S. and other countries. The danger is that the painstakingly created international system for aviation liberalization would unravel.
Finally, the Big Three are too clever by half in asserting that their concern is not with Open Skies, that they are big Open Skies supporters. The demand for a unilateral freeze on Gulf-carrier capacity would unquestionably constitute a breach of the U.S. Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The Big Three are serial spinners but even that one — we support Open Skies so much that we are demanding the Administration take the unprecedented step of violating two Open Skies agreements — stretches credibility too far.
Kevin Mitchell is founder of the Business Travel Coalition, and, a broad coalition of global stakeholders whose mission is to promote Open Skies policies.
FlyersRights – We’re Working For You!
On June 23rd, FlyersRights will address the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection (ACACP) on airline change and cancellation fees at its next meeting in Washington DC.
The committee is aware that we recently filed a petition with the DOT regarding airline change fees on international flights and is seeking input on the topic from a consumer perspective. 
FlyersRights looks forward to advising DOT on this as well as a variety of other issues that impact the flying public.
Dear FlyersRights:
I was returning home (PHX) from San Jose last week and had the following experience that just showed they really have no idea of what customer service is all about (yeah, no surprise). BTW, I am an Exec Platinum in their program, so this makes it even more ridiculous.
I was on the scheduled 4:10 flight from SJC that after landing, they announced some issues that needed to be looked at on the plane. 
1. After about 30 minutes, they canceled the flight. 
2. I called the Exec Platinum phone number and they said they had no notice of cancelation and accordingly could not rebook. I asked them to call to find out the status, they said they could not.
3. I asked to speak to a supervisor, offered to send a picture of the long line, and by this time they did get the message it was canceled 15 minutes after announced at the gate. Left hand clearly not knowing what the right is doing, but to not have a process to find out is nuts.
4. The Exec Plat desk put me on the next flight but said seats were under gate control and I would have to wait in line.
5 Waited 45 minutes to get to agent, then she says the reservations people could have issued the seat. 
Incompetence somewhere, but why does the customer have to bear this?
6. As I am standing there I notice on the screen behind the agent that flight status still said: on time. Asked them why, they said Its the airport, they have no control. 
Really? and they can’t coordinate this? On a previous trip was in DC changing flights and had to run to the connecting gate, which felt like it was miles away. Upon getting there found out the same thing – delayed, not on time as posted.  
7. The efficiency of dealing with unanticipated change from a customer perspective is lower than low…. The flight was a stop in Phx and then going on to Milwaukee so the rebooking for the connections was difficult to say the least. They had 3 people working the desk but it still took over an hour and with little information customers were on their own.
Now, to just about anyone it would have seen logical to separate lines. One for just PHX, and the others for connections. Get thru the Phx customers quickly, then help on the connections as well. Nope, never occurred to them. 
OK, I know they are likely understaffed at lots of airports but here is one for the Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0. There should be a customer service SWAT team at each airport that when something like this happens, they can come in and assist with rebooking, and customer service. The airlines should pay for this, either on subscription or when needed. 
Last point…. When the flight was cancelled, apparently they made the smart decision to bring a bigger plane in. They really did not communicate this which was a missed opportunity to reassure waiting customers. They just don’t think with the mindset of customer services. This, but the way, was all US Airways, so I don’t think they can use the ‘we haven’t unified all our systems with AA yet’ as an excuse.

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
  1 (877) 359-3776
The FlyersRights HOTLINE!
We publish weekly newsletters. There’s no charge to receive any of them.

FlyersRights is a nonprofit organization that depends on contributions from people like you. 

Please help us make a more ethical air travel experience or simply show your gratitude for whatever value you find in our work by making a tax-deductible donation:

Forward this email

This email was sent to by |  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *