DGCA in touch with Boeing after 3 international airlines pull back 8 Dreamliner aircraft
The country’s aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is in touch with Boeing after the aircraft-maker asked three international airlines to pull back eight of their B787 (Dreamliner) aircraft on discovering manufacturing defects.
Currently, India has 28 operational B787 aircraft (27 with Air India and one with Vistara). Arun Kumar, director-general, DGCA, said, “We are in touch with them, if need be suitable action will be taken (sic).”
As per latest information, the eight Boeing 787 aircraft belonged to Air Canada, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines. In a telephonic conversation with HT, Boeing spokesperson, said, Boeing has identified two distinct manufacturing issues in certain 787 aircraft “(near or towards the tail of the aircraft) body fuselage sections, which, in combination, result in a condition that does not meet our design standards.”
Sources, however, told HT that no 787 flying for Indian airlines’ will be pulled back for this reason. Former defence pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena said the aft fuselage portion – called aft pressure bulkhead – that carries the load of rear passengers is made of lightweight or composite material.
“It (aft fuselage portion) helps an aircraft aerodynamically, and is usually made by third party manufacturers. It is subsequently integrated with the front portion of the fuselage using metallic joints, chemical compounds and sealants to withstand the aerodynamic pressure and stress that an aircraft encounters while flying,” said Saxena. “For the safety of aircraft and passengers, there are periodic checks to ensure that the front portion of the fuselage and aft bulkheads are joined together securely and are intact as an integrated body.”
Saxena further added, “This step by Boeing is subsequent to observing some signs of material failure due to fatigue /excessive stress, risking safety of aircraft. Hence, Boeing being manufacturers of 787 issued the recall to mitigate the risk in the interest of aircraft and passenger safety.”
Boeing also said they have notified and briefed US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), about the issue. “We are conducting a thorough review into the root cause and in addition, as part of our assessment, we determined that eight airplanes in the delivered fleet are affected by both issues and therefore must be inspected and repaired prior to continued operation. We immediately contacted the airlines that operate the eight affected airplanes to notify them of the situation, and the airplanes have been temporarily removed from service until they can be repaired,” said the spokesperson.
This is not the first time when Boeing787 aircraft are reported to have a technical problem. On January 16, 2013, the FAA had issued an emergency airworthiness directive ordering all US-based airlines to ground their Boeing 787s until modifications were made to the electrical system to reduce the risk of the battery overheating or catching fire.
This step, which was the first such, was taken after smoke was detected from a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo landed at Boston’s Logan International Airport in January 2013. Though the smoke was observed after all passengers deboarded, from the plane’s electrical bay, it was later learnt traced to one of its two lithium-ion batteries.