Qatar Airways CEO Plays Down Boeing 787 Dreamliner Safety Concerns

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Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar al-Baker, told reporters in Doha on Wednesday that some teething problems do occur with any new aircraft program. He played down a series of recent safety related incidents involving The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s newest and most sophisticated plane, 787 Dreamliner. Boeing’s future success is heavily dependent on this plane, but a spate of mishaps have raised concerns over its safety and reliability.

Qatar Airways currently has five 787 jets in its fleet. The Middle East carrier is one of the biggest customers of Dreamliner, with 30 already placed orders and an option to acquire 30 more planes. Baker told Reuters that Qatar Airways initially had some issues with the newly-delivered planes, but no other technical issues have occurred ever since.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (TYO:9202) had to cancel a domestic Dreamliner flight from Yamaguchi to Tokyo after a computer on the board mistakenly showed problems with the plane’s brakes on Wednesday. A few days ago, Japan Airlines  cancelled a take-off from Boston’s Logan International Airport due fuel leakage in a 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In another incident, an electric fire broke out at Logan airport in a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines. Openly supporting The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Qatar Airways chief executive said the incidents that occurred at Logan could have been isolated.

“It could be a production issue with one of the components which caused the smoke. I’m sure if it was something serious, the FAA would have grounded airplanes. This was not the case, so it could be that this was an isolated issue,” said Akbar al-Baker.

These three are the latest among the problems with Dreamliner, which entered the commercial service in November 2011. It has been criticized for many electrical and technical glitches since then. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) sold 46 Dreamliners last year, and plans to double its production to 10 787’s per month. The company expects to sell more than 5,000 Dreamliner aircrafts in the next 20 years. We are yet to see how the safety and reliability issues will affect its sales.

However, Akbar al-Baker said his company has no plans to cancel any orders with The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). He said that he would be too concerned if Qatar Airways had to ground planes, but in that case he would demand compensation from Boeing Co.

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