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Qatar Airways grounds Boeing 787 Dreamliners, cancels Perth-Doha debut

By David Flynn     Filed under: perth, Dreamliner, Boeing 787, Qatar Airways, Doha

Qatar Airways has grounded its fleet of Boeing 787s and cancelled the planned  a February 1 commencement of a daily Perth-Doha 787 service, which was to be Australia's first regular flight on Boeing's next-gen jetliner.

That Perth-Doha flight has now been replaced in Qatar's timetable by an extension of the current Boeing 777 aircraft.

“Safety remains the number one priority for Qatar Airways" said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker. “Qatar Airways will resume 787 operations when we are clear that the aircraft meets the full requirements of the Airworthiness Directive and our standards which assure the safety of our passengers and crew at all times."

Qatar previously grounded one of its own Boeing 787s in December when the jet developed a similar issue which forced a United Airlines 787 to make an emergency landing on December 4 following the failure of one of six generators.

“These problems are unacceptable because this aircraft has been flying for the last 14 months” Al Baker said at the time. “(Boeing) have to get their act together very fast because we at Qatar Airways will not accept any more defects.”

“Two aircraft having the same problem – the same major problem – so quickly is a cause of concern,” Al Baker added, saying that “definitely we will demand compensation. We are not buying airplanes from them to put in a museum.”

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

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1 on 17/1/13 by TheRealBabushka

Are modern-new design aircraft another victim of our 24 hour media news cycle? Or are "experts" just towing the line by insisting these incidents are nothing to be too shocked by?

Any old timers out there who recalled the delivery of the first B747, DC 10 and A300? How did the media coverage then of those aircraft differ from that of the A380 (Rolls Royce engine failure circa 2010) and the current B787 hiccups? 

1 on 17/1/13 by Al

I'm not sure I follow you, Babushka, exactly what point are you trying to make? Are you blaming the media for these groundings?

1 on 18/1/13 by spinoza

I think hes just asking if this is the media being alarmist or is this normal? Its hard nowadays to know how fearful we should be of something because of the 24 hour news cycle.. just think of swine flu. 

Anyway I was thinking this myself; every new aircraft has had problems, the A380 certainly did. So how normal is this?

1 on 18/1/13 by John

My take on the Dreamliner (and I think David generally concurs) is this:

  1. The general media loves (loves) a good scary aviation story, because people find not having control of their own fates on a plane a little bit weird at the best of times. It's why airplane disaster movies work so well: Passengers terrified! Aircraft plummeted! I thought I was going to die in a fiery death trap! I speak jive! Snake on a plane! It makes for a great story. But flying is still safer than staying at home.
  2. Boeing delivered an unprecedented number of aircraft for the first year of operation with the 787. Simple statistics means that we are seeing a relatively high number of relatively minor snags popping up and being reported, simply because there are so many aircraft flying so early in the plane's life. For example: faulty indicator lights, fuel line leaks, brake issues, cracked windscreens. (These sound very dramatic if you big them up, but most frequent flyers will be familiar with these as not uncommon reasons for delays.)
  3. There is obviously a problem with the GS Yuasa-Thales-Boeing batteries. (The question of whether it was a good idea that Boeing outsourced to Thales who outsoured to GSY and involved a third company to put it all together is a very valid criticism. Boeing is on record saying that they're unlikely to build a jet this way again.) Once they're fixed, the plane should be ready to go.
  4. It's intriguing that the aircraft in Japan was delivered over a year ago and had an issue with the front main battery. The one in Boston? Delivered last month and had an issue with the rear APU battery. Is this a manufacturing defect? Did the reworking of all those 787s that were (are!) sitting around in Seattle have any effect? 
  5. Let's really not blow this out of proportion. Everything is working as it should. In Japan, the sensors in the 787 activated when the battery overheated, the protections for the other electronics (from the battery fluid spray) and the warning systems meant that the plane landed swiftly and safely, the emergency evacuation procedures meant only one elderly person was slightly scratched up after coming down the slide, and the regulations limited the 787 to being three hours from a diversion airport anyway. The system is safe and sensible.

I'd be the first person to get back on a 787 the moment they fix the battery problems and start flying again. 

2 on 17/1/13 by Sam

This is bad news, but must say I like Al Baker because he is so direct and to the point! No wonder Qatar Airways are going from strength to strength. 

 

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