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2013年1月17日 (木)

787トラブル 「夢の翼」も安全であってこそ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 17, 2013)
Safety must come first for Boeing 787 operators
787トラブル 「夢の翼」も安全であってこそ(1月16日付・読売社説)

Japanese and U.S. aviation authorities have launched investigations into a recent series of glitches, including fuel leaks, with Boeing Co.'s latest midsize aircraft, the 787.

Are there fears these small problems could lead to a serious accident? Safety must be the top priority. Authorities in both countries must conduct exhaustive investigations to determine the cause of the faults.

Made of lightweight carbon fiber, the 787 passenger plane's light body makes it more fuel-efficient. It has been dubbed "Dreamliner."

The 787 is widely expected to contribute significantly to improving airlines' earnings because it can fly long-distance routes at a lower cost. The U.S. aircraft maker has received orders for 800 Dreamliners from around the world. In autumn 2011, All Nippon Airways became the first airline to introduce the 787 into commercial service.

ANA has 17 of the aircraft in its fleet and Japan Airlines has seven, accounting for almost half of about 50 787s in service worldwide.


'Dreamliner' trouble-ridden

The recent spate of problems started Jan. 7, when a small fire started in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a JAL 787 parked on the tarmac at Boston's Logan International Airport.

The following day, a fuel leak was found in the main wing of another JAL 787 as it taxied toward takeoff at the same airport.
These incidents were followed by problems with Dreamliners operated domestically by ANA, including an oil leak and a cracked cockpit window.

Aren't six incidents involving the 787 just this month alone too many?

Last year, a United Airlines 787 made an emergency landing due to a fault with its electronic system, and Qatar Airways also reported problems with the same model.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority announced it will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the 787's safety in terms of its design and manufacturing process. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said his agency wanted the review "to find out why safety-related incidents were occurring."

In Japan, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has established an expert team to conduct an independent investigation.


Many Japanese parts used

Newly introduced passenger planes, and not just the 787, are said to often be afflicted by small troubles. But we think both the Japanese and U.S. authorities were correct to take a serious view of the spate of incidents involving the Dreamliner.

The 787 was trouble-ridden from its development stage. The first 787 was delivered to ANA more than three years behind schedule.

Boeing has trumpeted the reliability of its 787, but it will be necessary to pinpoint whether cutting-edge technologies on the high-tech aircraft are connected to the spate of problems.

Carbon fiber and many parts used for manufacturing the 787's main wing, fuselage and tires are made in Japan. We hope Japanese makers of these components and the authorities concerned will work together to resolve the problems as early as possible.

Some observers say the ongoing investigation is very unlikely to lead to a revision of the plane's design, but we urge airlines operating Dreamliners to regularly check these aircraft.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2013)
(2013年1月16日00時16分  読売新聞)


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