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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Faces Scrutiny After Another Fuel Leak

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Faces Scrutiny After Another Fuel Leak

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s 787 Dreamliner airplane is facing another investigation from authorities, after fuel from the aircraft operated by Japan Airlines began leaking while it moving on the taxiway for departure at the Boston Logan International Airport today.

According to Matthew Brelis, spokesperson for Massachusetts Port Authority, the 787 Dreamliner was towed back to the gate as a precaution. And the passengers disembarked the plane.

In an e-mail, Carol Anderson, spokesperson for Japan Airlines wrote, “A mechanical was reported by a crew of JAL 007, and the aircraft is now returning to the gate to be checked. Details of the mechanical are not yet confirmed.”

Yesterday, a different Japan Airlines 787 aircraft  was caught in a fire while parking on the gate. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the fire.

The Boeing 787 has been confronted with several problems over the past two months. Experts in the aviation industry commented, it is too early to consider the reported incidents as signs that the latest aircraft model has serious problems.

Mike Boyd, chairman of Boyd Group International opined, “You’re always going to have glitches with new airplane. One would prefer they not be fires, but another thing to remember is there’s a lot of scrutiny on this airplane [and] a lot of focus on this airplane, so if a door latch doesn’t work we’re going to hear about it.”

On the other hand, Leeham and Co aviation industry consultant, Scott Hamilton, is wondering whether the fire last Monday and the other reported problems were isolated or serious, which is not yet identified by investigators. He said, “What might be a real concern here is whether or not these are systemic, linked issues.”

Meanwhile, Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group said the Boeing 787 has some glitches, but emphasized that the new plane also has more technologies than normal. “They’ve tried an awful lot of new ideas with this plane,” said Aboulafia.

Some of the previously reported incidents on the Boeing 787 aircraft include an electrical panel issue that prompted the United Airlines 787 to make an emergency landing last December. Qatar Airlines also reported an electrical problem on its 787 aircraft last month.

Since initial delivery to ANA over a year ago, the Boeing 787 dreamliner has had a combination of typical teething issues associated w/ new aircraft & manufacturing errors requiring quick fixes. In November 2010, an electronics related fire aboard a test jet halted the test program for months and was later blamed on debris in the electronic compartment. December 2012 was a tough month: a United 787 generator failure warning forced an emergency landing and the FAA ordered inspections of fuel line connections after ANA and JAL experienced leaks (the airlines quickly fixed these leaks).

These issues have eroded market confidence in the 787 and have generated concerns around customer/consumer aversion to a troubled plane. However, the aircraft continues to fly and customers are still reportedly happy with their performance.

Stock  of  The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is down by 2.80 percent to $74.03 as of this writing.

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