* Dreamliner reliability 98 pct
* Further progress in reliability will be slower
* 777 needed from 1995 to 1999 to attain 99 pct reliability
By Balazs Koranyi and Joachim Dagenborg
OSLO, Jan 24 The reliability of Boeing's
pioneering 787 Dreamliner jet is improving but is still not
satisfactory, Mike Fleming, Boeing's vice president for 787
support and services said on Friday.
The Dreamliner's reliability rate is now around 98 percent,
meaning that two out of every 100 flights is delayed, which is
above the 97 percent reported in October but still short of the
firm's target, Fleming told a news conference in Oslo where
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, one of his most troubled
customers, is based.
"I'll tell you that's not where we want the airplane to be,
we're not satisfied with that reliability level of the
airplane," Fleming said.
"The 777 today flies at 99.4 percent ... and that's the
benchmark that the 787 needs to attain.
"We introduced the 777 in 1995 and it was in the 1999
timeframe that we saw sustained performance over 99 percent in
that fleet ... to get the fleet above 99 percent you have to
keep working every day, so my guess is that it will be similar
to what we had with the 777," he added.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, the only European budget carrier to
fly long haul, has been plagued by problems with its first three
Dreamliners with a series of breakdowns last year leaving
The Dreamliner was supposed to be a game-changer for the
aviation industry as its lighter body and sophisticated engines
cut fuel consumption by 20 percent.
But it has been beset by problems including a battery fire
that grounded all 787s in service for three months last year and
forced Boeing to re-design the innovative lithium-ion battery
and enclose it in a stainless steel containment box capable of
withstanding an explosion. It also equipped the battery with a
metal exhaust tube to vent fumes and gases outside the jet if
the battery were to overheat.
Although the batteries have worked reliably since then, this
month Japan Airlines' maintenance crew noticed white smoke
coming from the main battery of a Dreamliner, with a cell found
to be showing signs of melting just two hours before the plane
was due to fly.
"We recently had a single-cell failure in a battery on
another customer's airplane and we didn't get propagation of
that to other cells, other cells continued to function," Fleming
said. "The containment box worked as supposed to and the vapour
vented overboard as supposed to."
But Fleming said the battery has not suffered an in-flight
failure since the redesign and Boeing could still change the
battery's design based on the conclusions of the investigation
into the latest incident.
"We didn't assume we would never have another cell failure.
We always assume we're going to have a failure and we design the
airplane with a redundancy," Fleming said.
Other issues on the Dreamliner still facing Boeing include
the reliability of flight controls, particularly for the wing
spoilers, brakes and electrical power components.
Fleming said any compensation issue with Norwegian Air would
be discussed privately but the plane maker takes responsibility
for the technical faults.
"When our airplane breaks and our service doesn't deliver on
what it's supposed to, we take responsibility," he said.