Multiple failures keep B787 grounded - The Dreamliner disaster
Reactions to the grounding of Boeing’s latest model have ranged from dismay («a nightmare») to mockery («good news for Airbus»). So here are a few facts for the air cargo industry about the long-haul airliner which has temporarily been grounded.
No Boeing B787s have flown since 17 January, thanks to a series of grounding orders issued by aviation authorities around the world. Boeing’s Dreamliner, described at its launch as «the world’s most modern and energy-efficient airliner», is an attractive option for the logistics industry, given its range and cargo capacity (137 cbm). This is the first time that all aircraft of a particular type have been grounded since the DC-10 in 1979.
Which airlines were flying the B787?
All Nippon Airlines, the earliest customer, took delivery of the first production model on 25 September 2011, three and a half years behind schedule, and now has 17 of the planes – the largest fleet so far. Next comes Japan Airlines (seven aircraft), Air India and United Airlines (six apiece), Qatar Airways (five), Ethiopian Airlines (four), LAN Airlines (three) and LOT (two). Boeing has announced that further orders will not be delivered until the causes of the recent problems have been fully resolved.
It’s an ill wind…
According to the media, Airbus stands to profit from Boeing’s flop. The US manufacturer’s image has certainly been tarnished, but it remains to be seen whether Boeing’s European rival can take advantage of the situation. Patience is the order of the day, since Airbus has repeatedly extended the development timeline for its comparable model, the A350. This has drawn criticism from Airbus customers, but if it helps to avoid errors as made by Boeing…
What happens next?
Most customers with outstanding orders (which total 799 aircraft) for the USD 200 million Dreamliner, such as Aeromexico, have indicated that they intend to stand by their commitments. Qantas has reduced its order, but only by one plane. However, outright cancellations may follow, if official investigations of the problems drag on for weeks or perhaps even months.
Several existing operators, such as Air India and LOT, are already looking into claiming damages because of the grounding. Should they succeed, the failure would become materially quantifiable for Boeing. At least there have been no human casualties as a result of mishaps in Dreamliner operations.