FAA Proposes $2.75 Million Civil Penalty Against Boeing Co. for Quality Control Violations

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

penaltyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $2.75 million civil penalty against Boeing Co.’s commercial airplanes unit for allegedly failing to maintain its quality control system in accordance with approved FAA procedures.

“Safety is our top priority and a robust quality control system is a vital part of maintaining the world’s safest air transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Airplane manufacturers must take prompt and thorough steps to correct safety and compliance problems once they become aware of them.”

In September 2008, Boeing discovered that it had been installing nonconforming fasteners on its model 777 airplanes. On October 2008, the FAA sent Boeing a letter of investigation that requested a response within 20 working days. The FAA alleges that Boeing repeatedly submitted action plans that set deadlines for the accomplishment of certain corrective actions, but subsequently failed to implement those plans. The company implemented a plan to address the fastener issue on Nov. 10, 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem

“Manufacturers must make it a priority to identify and correct quality problems in a timely manner,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Boeing stopped using the nonconforming fasteners after officials discovered the problem. However, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.


Dreamliners back in the air, controllers back on the job…

On 01/05/2013, in Viewpoint, by steve

devilUnless I am very much mistaken, the grounding of the Boeing 787 has been the longest in aviation history and only the DC-10 comes close, but that was in another time and age. Just a coincidence, of course, but still a telling story and a sign of this age the FAA’s enforced decision last month to furlough air traffic controllers due to a shortage of money caused by the federal budget restrictions implemented by politicians with little understanding of what this would cause in specialized areas like aviation.

Boeing screwed up big time with the 787 battery system as did Washington with its lawn-mower approach to straightening the federal budget.

Of course this was not the first major issue with the design of the 787. The center wing-box is now much heavier that was originally foreseen due to additional bits that had to be bolted on when it was discovered that the first load calculations were incorrect. Not that Airbus did any better with the 380. Incompatible software at different fabrication locations resulted in wire harnesses being too short, probably another first for the industry. Then cracks found on the rib-feet of the wings were discovered accidentally… while engineers were looking at the wing of the Qantas 380 that had one of its engines go boom. While the cracks did not pause an immediate safety problem, had they not been discovered like this, it is anybody’s guess what might have happened later on.

The way air traffic management should be financed has been a matter of debate for a long time now. In Europe, full cost recovery means that basically the airspace users pay everything and there is no danger of the money running out. Except of course if the airspace users themselves go belly up as had happened, well, more or less, after 9/11.

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FAA Will Review Boeing 787 Design and Production

On 11/01/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

In light of a series of recent events, the FAA will conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 critical systems, including the design, manufacture and assembly. The purpose of the review is to validate the work conducted during the certification process and further ensure that the aircraft meets the FAA’s high level of safety.

“The safety of the traveling public is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future.”

A team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors will conduct this joint review, with an emphasis on the aircraft’s electrical power and distribution system. The review will also examine how the electrical and mechanical systems interact with each other.

“We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “We are conducting the review to further ensure that the aircraft meets our high safety standards.”

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United 787 Virtual Tour

On 03/11/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

A virtual tour of United’s Dreamliner is now available through the United Hub here. The virtual tour provides a detailed look at the aircraft’s unique characteristics through a variety of animated, interactive features. The tour enables viewers to sample the Dreamliner’s United BusinessFirst seats, electrochromatic window shades, six styles of LED cabin lighting and more. The virtual tour also includes segments on the 787’s state-of-the-art flight deck, crew rest areas and lavatories, as well as information about the Dreamliner’s General Electric GEnx engines, wing technology and cargo capabilities. A “facts & figures” section of the tour offers a series of graphics that illustrate the Dreamliner’s capabilities and specifications.

Recent photos and video of United’s first 787 aircraft are available for download in the media center here.

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Cleaner, meaner and flies farther…

On 28/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

A special American Airlines 737-800 left Seattle for flight testing as part of its participation in Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program, which tests technologies focused on reducing fuel consumption, lowering noise and using sustainable materials.


United Airlines Announces First 787 International Routes

On 24/08/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

United Airlines today announced the first international routes for the airline’s newest addition to its fleet, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

In addition to the previously-announced service from its Denver hub to Tokyo Narita, starting March 31, 2013, the airline will operate nonstop 787 service five days a week between its Houston hub and Lagos, Nigeria, beginning Jan. 7, 2013. United will also operate daily, nonstop 787 service between its Los Angeles hub and its Narita hub, beginning Jan. 3, 2013, and Los Angeles to Shanghai, beginning March 30, 2013.

United will also operate daily, nonstop 787 service from its Houston hub to Amsterdam and London Heathrow on a temporary basis. Houston to Amsterdam service begins Dec. 4, 2012, and Houston to London Heathrow service begins Feb. 4, 2013.

“The 787 is the right aircraft for these routes because of its many passenger-friendly amenities and superior operating economics,” says United’s Senior Vice President of Network, Greg Hart. “With 50 787s on order, we look forward to the many new route opportunities that will become available to United and our customers in the future.”

The 787 aircraft will display for sale for these routes on united.com and other distribution channels beginning Aug. 25, while Denver to Narita service is available for sale now. In the near future, United will announce plans for initial domestic flying for the 787, which will precede the launch of international flights described above.

Configured with 36 seats in United BusinessFirst, 72 seats in United Economy Plus and 111 seats in United Economy, the Dreamliner will revolutionize the flying experience for United customers and crews while delivering unprecedented operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions. Customers will experience greater comfort with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other passenger-friendly features.


United Airlines’ First 787 Takes Flight

On 21/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

United Airlines’ first 787 Dreamliner has completed its first production flight as Boeing makes final preparations for delivering it to United at the end of September. The aircraft took off from Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Sunday. Boeing pilots flew the 787 around the Seattle area for more than three hours as part of planned tests of the aircraft’s controls and systems.

During the flight, crew members examined the 787’s onboard systems at high and medium altitudes. They also checked backup and safety elements, including cabin pressurization, avionics, navigation and communications systems.

Sunday’s flight was part of a series of work that Boeing performs after each 787 comes out of its paint hangar and before airlines take delivery of the planes. The work also includes fueling, systems tests, engine runs and taxi tests.

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner dazzles with innovative details

On 31/07/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner stands apart from the Boeing aircraft that United currently flies. In fact, it’s different from any aircraft you’ve seen. We’d like to take you on a tour of the 787 inside and out, stopping along the way to show you the innovative features that make this a truly remarkable plane – one that you’re definitely going to want to fly on.

As we get closer to the delivery of the 787, we’ll be offering news and photos that are specific to our own Dreamliner. In fact, we’ll be dedicating an entire section of United Hub to the 787.

787 innovations from the outside in

From its exterior design to the manufacturing materials and build process, the 787 introduces a number of innovations and advances in technology. It’s not always easy to know, just by looking, what model a particular airplane is. But the 787 was designed from the outset to stand out. If you’re one of our customers who is versed in aviation design, you may spot a few distinct features that set it apart from other aircraft including the windshield made of four panels, the graceful sweep of the wings and the smoother contour of the nose.

Composite materials

Along with the design, the most significant exterior innovation is Boeing’s approach to the primary structure of the 787. While other aircraft are made primarily of metal, the 787’s fuselage and wings – a full 50 percent of the whole – are formed of carbon fiber-enforced polymers. Constructing so much of an airplane from composite materials is a truly revolutionary approach.

Composite materials are lighter and more durable than standard metal and these qualities give the 787 the advantage when it comes to incorporating advances in aircraft technology. Other direct benefits of using composites include greater manufacturing efficiency (the fuselage is fashioned as several one-piece barrels), greater fuel efficiency (a 20-percent decrease in fuel consumption), fewer hours of maintenance over the long run and lower cabin altitude for more comfortable flights.

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United Airlines Announces Dreamliner Induction Plan

On 09/07/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

United Airlines, the North American launch customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is today announcing details about its induction of the aircraft into the company’s fleet and revealing a specially-designed livery for the revolutionary aircraft.

The new, special livery...

United is scheduled to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late September. The aircraft cabin is being installed on the first aircraft, and will be configured with 36 seats in United BusinessFirst, 72 seats in United Economy Plus and 111 seats in United Economy. Cabin color selections use a palette of blue and grey and are consistent with other modern United aircraft. Customers will experience greater comfort with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other passenger-friendly features. The 787’s inflight entertainment system features an all-new design that offers more intuitive browsing and more filtering options, giving customers the option of searching for programs by language.

The airline’s 787 fleet will feature a customized livery that is exclusive to the fleet: the gold line that wraps the fuselage will swoop from nose to tail. The swoop is inspired by the trademark swoop painted on each of Boeing’s aircraft and is being adopted for the United 787 in a tribute to the two companies’ long history of working together.

United has been the launch customer for more than a dozen Boeing aircraft models, and was the first airline to operate the 767 and 777 aircraft. This tradition continues with United being the North America launch customer of the 787.

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Airbus: Uncle Sam, here we come!

On 29/06/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The best kept secret in the State of Alabama these days is the Airbus announcement expected to come on Monday, 2 July at 10a local time, that they will open their first aircraft manufacturing plant in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile already hosts the Airbus North America engineering center.

Back in the days when Airbus and Boeing were competing in the US Air Force’s race to build the new tankers, Mobile had already been earmarked by Airbus as the site for their US manufacturing operation. When Airbus lost to Boeing, for a time it seemed that Mobile’s dreams of becoming the South’s Seattle were dead in the water…

Airbus has been pondering a US manufacturing plant for some time and there are several good reasons for setting up shop in the States. For one, making costs in building planes in euros and then selling them for dollars is not always a good idea. With the euro down against the dollar this issue is less acute but even at the current rate of exchange, it makes sense to operate completely in a dollar environment. The economics will further improve on account of being free of high European labor costs. Last but not least, an Airbus A320 stamped “Proudly Made in the USA” will probably add just enough additional attraction to swing a few more airlines to buy Airbus rather than Boeing.

Airbus aircraft are popular with US based airlines and seeing a new Airbus plant growing up in their backyard will certainly make the Boeing folks in Chicago think hard on how to counter the new threat.

Competition is good…


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