Sunday, December 8, 2013
David Koenig / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
An All Nippon Airways' Boeing 787 "the Dreamliner" is parked on the tarmac at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Friday. Nearly all 50 of the 787s in use around the world have been grounded.
Thomas Anthony, director of the aviation-safety program at the University of Southern California, said many new planes have flaws that are only discovered once they go into service, and that the regulatory process worked the way it was supposed to with the Dreamliner.
"The FAA used to be accused of 'blood priority'" — acting only after a disaster, Anthony said. "In this case, it's not true. The regulators are taking their job seriously. There were no accidents, there were no injuries, there were no fatalities."
That has not always been the case. In 1979, authorities grounded the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 for five weeks after an engine tore loose from the wing of an American Airlines plane, causing a crash that killed 273 in Chicago. And there were other incidents that occurred after the DC-10 was introduced in 1971, including cargo-door problems that forced one emergency landing and caused a Turkish Airlines crash that killed 346 in 1974.
Boeing, based in Chicago, is racing to find a fix to the Dreamliner's battery systems and get the planes back in the air. It is still producing 787s but has stopped delivering them to customers.
Bloomberg News reported that Boeing has tried to persuade FAA to end the groundings by proposing a variety of inspections and having pilots monitor electronic signals from the batteries to prevent fires. The FAA has been reluctant to approve those steps without a clear idea of what caused the defects and how they can be prevented.