787 Growing Pains

First it was a battery fire in the APU, then it was a fuel leak, now its a brake problem. Boeing’s Dreamliner is going through the normal process of cutting it’s teeth in regular service. No amount of controlled, FAA regulated, routine testing will work out the bugs that day-in-day-out service will expose. And that’s good. It’s also good to see the airlines not reacting to hype:

JAL spokesman Kazunori Kidosaki said the carrier, which operates seven Dreamliners, had no plans to change orders it has placed for another 38 aircraft. ANA, which has 17 Dreamliners flying its colors, will also stick with its orders for another 49, spokesman Etsuya Uchiyama said.

Of course this spate of growing pains doesn’t come without it’s cost to Boeing’s image. High-profile incidents like these don’t help the stock price and they’ve gotten the attention of the FAA. Glad to see the FAA going about this professionally without causing further hype:

“There are concerns about recent events involving the Boeing 787. That is why today we are conducting a comprehensive review,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a news conference followed by more than 100 reporters around the world.
Those concerns notwithstanding, though, LaHood also maintained the plane was still airworthy.
“I believe this plane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight,” he said.

It seems like between Boeing and the FAA the right investigation and oversight is being taken place. Huge technological advances, which the 787 Dreamliner represents, don’t come without taking some risks. It’s heartening to see that we are still willing to take those risks.