Panel Falls Off Boeing 787 Dreamliner During Flight

A body panel fell off a Boeing 787 Dreamliner while it was flying over India on Saturday. Images taken of the plane after it landed showed a hole in the belly of the plane with components and aircraft structure visible.

The incident happened while the 787, operated by Air India, came in to land in Bangalore, while carrying 148 passengers. The plane’s pilots didn’t know the panel was missing until the flight landed.

Reuters notes that the latest glitch was one in a series for the Dreamliner, which was introduced into commercial service two years ago. Boeing and Air India assured that there was no risk to the safety of passengers by the missing body panel.

A spokesman for Boeing, Doug Alder, explained of the missing part, “It was the mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the airplane on the right side. [The part] provides a more aerodynamic surface in flight.”

Al Jazeera notes that the missing panel is the latest of Boeing’s issues with the 787 Dreamliner. An aircraft headed to Tokyo last week was forced to turn back because of an issue with its deicing system. Another plane was grounded because of electrical issues that made the toilets not function properly.

The company also experienced several other electrical and mechanical issues, including one that caused the Dreamliner’s battery to overheat and catch fire. The planes were grounded for months earlier this year while the aircraft company fixed the problem.

As for the latest issue, an Air India spokesman explained that the panel was replaced with one taken from another 787 Dreamliner. The airliner has eight Dreamliners in service and will have a ninth flying for them “anytime now.” The spokesman added of the missing panel, “From the safety point of view, there is no hazard at all.”

Authorities are investigating Saturday’s incident.

[Image by Julian Herzog via Wikimedia Commons]