The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a maintenance mandate after finding another problem with the new 787 Boeing Dreamliner. The new order is the latest in a long list of embarrassments for the new jet airliner.
According to CNN, FAA lab tests showed that the Dreamliner will suddenly lose all AC power if the plane is continuously powered for 248 days, which would leave the aircrews without functioning controls. The issue is apparently a bug in the plane’s software that puts all the generators into failsafe mode.
The FAA found the problem serious enough to issue an Airworthiness Directive for what it called “a repetitive maintenance task,” effective immediately.
“The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment,” they explained.
The Verge reports the fix is simple, all the planes have to be periodically shut down. While that temporary fix is in place, Boeing will work to fix the bug. The company claims it will have a solution by the fourth quarter of this year.
The bug could have been life-threatening, but thanks to the federal regulators, the problem is just one more embarrassment for the troubled Dreamliner.
Boeing first debuted the 787 in 2011 in Asia, and then later in the United States. Boeing sold the plane as a passenger aircraft that saved money on fuel because its made of light-weight composite materials. To shed additional pounds, they replaced many of the mechanical components with electrical ones. Unfortunately for the company, that electrical system has had numerous defects.
In 2013, the entire global fleet of 787 Dreamliners was grounded after a plane caught on fire. According to the New York Times, there were two technical problems with the plane’s lithium ion batteries. The National Transportation Safety Board claimed that both Boeing and the FAA were responsible, citing a lack of oversight in the manufacturing process.
The fleet was grounded for an entire three months, but the headaches didn’t end there.
Qatar Airways and other carriers complained of failures in the Dreamliners’ main electrical panel that would force delays and aircraft groundings.
Boeing even had to get a waiver from the FAA to deliver its 787-9, a slightly longer version of the Dreamliner, to customers. Two components in the aircraft failed airworthiness regulations, but the company argued that the chances of engine failure or loss of power were extremely low.
The latest software bug seems minor in comparison. The full FAA order for the Boeing Dreamliner can be found here.
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