All Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded

Image of Boeing 787 on the ground

Image credit: Altair78, 22 December 2009

The European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) has followed the lead of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in grounding the entire Boeing 787 fleet.  Ethiopian airlines are also grounding their planes on routes that do not fall under the EASA or FAA jurisdiction.

Concerns are focussed on the Lithium ion batteries, which we had identified as a risk in our previous article on the plane’s woes FAA questions safety of Boeing 787.

While Airbus make some use of Lithium ion batteries, they do not have the critical dependence on them that the Dreamliner has, because of its extensive use of electrical control of flight surfaces.

If investigation proves the problem to be a manufacturing defect in the batteries then the Dreamliner fleet will not be grounded for long.  If, however, the fault lies with the aircraft wiring or the design of the electrical systems themselves then there could be major delays.

If there are significant delays it will undermine operator confidence in the Boeing 787 and they will start cancelling orders, preferring perhaps to wait for the Airbus A350, which is currently scheduled to make its maiden flight in mid-2013.

In the mean time, The Guardian newspaper pleads, “Please do not call it the BinLiner”!

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