* FAA to call for inspection of fuel line connectors
* Inspection affects entire in-service fleet off 33 jets
* Japan's ANA reported fuel leak on Oct 23, says inspections
* United emergency 787 landing unrelated to fuel issue
By Alwyn Scott
NEW YORK, Dec 4 On the same day one of its new
Dreamliners made an emergency landing because of a mechanical
problem, Boeing said U.S. regulators had ordered the
entire fleet of 787 jets to be inspected for a possible fuel
The twin mechanical issues, while not necessarily uncommon,
were yet another headache for Boeing, a company still working to
overcome the negative perception of production problems that
delayed delivery of the 787 by 3-1/2 years.
Its latest problem involved a brand new United Airlines
787 Dreamliner with 184 people aboard, which was forced
to make an emergency landing in New Orleans due to an undefined
Boeing also said on Tuesday the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration was requiring inspections of all 787s in service
to confirm that fuel line connectors had been properly
The checks were recommended after two non-U.S. carriers
experienced fuel leaks. Boeing declined to name the carriers.
Japan's All Nippon Airways, Boeing's Dreamliner
launch customer, said on Wednesday it had reported the leak to
the FAA and Boeing.
ANA spokesman Yoichi Uchida said the carrier found the fuel
leak on Oct. 23. He said the airline completed inspections of
all 16 ANA Dreamliners on Sunday, and that the work did not
Local rival Japan Airlines Co said they too had
inspected their six 787s and that flights were unaffected by the
checks. It said it had not found any fuel leaks prior to the
Air India owns three Dreamliners.
The FAA requirement, due to be issued on Wednesday in an
airworthiness directive, "makes mandatory inspections already
recommended by Boeing," the company said in a statement.
FAA officials did not immediately respond to requests for
Boeing said improperly installed fuel line connectors could
lead to fuel leaks, loss of engine power or fire. But at the
same time, it said there were "multiple layers of systems to
ensure none of those things happen".
Boeing advised airlines flying the 787 to make inspections
last month, and it said about half of the 33 jets in service
have already been inspected.
The FAA directive was first reported by Bloomberg News.
The agency issued a previous airworthiness directive for the
787 and 747 in September, after problems with General Electric
GEnx engines on those models. Such directives alert
aircraft operators to a known safety defect.
NO FIRE IN PLANE DIVERSION
Separately, a brand new United Airlines 787
Dreamliner with 184 people aboard was forced to divert and make
an emergency landing in New Orleans on Tuesday after
experiencing a mechanical problem on a flight from Houston to
The pilots of Flight 1146 declared an emergency while in the
air. When the plane landed safely around 9:25 a.m. CDT, fire
trucks were on the runway, a standard procedure.
Initial inspections showed that there was no fire in the aft
electrical equipment bay, where the problem was reported, and no
sign of electrical "arcing," or electricity flowing incorrectly,
according to a person familiar with the situation.
Boeing Co is ramping up production of the 787 to help
reduce a backlog of 838 orders worth more than $173 billion.
While concerns about its safety could affect passenger
perceptions and raise issues with deliveries to other airlines,
analysts said flight diversions are not unusual, especially with
"These are the typical growing pains one would expect with a
new airplane as it enters service," said Carter Leake, a former
military and commercial pilot who is now an analyst with BB&T
Capital Markets. "No conclusions can be drawn."
United said the problem occurred with its third 787,
delivered on Nov. 27. The airline, which is due to receive two
more 787s this month put the passengers on other flights to
"At this point, we're just looking at this specific plane,
not the fleet," said Christen David, a United spokeswoman.
United is the first U.S. airline to put the new
carbon-composite 787 into service and flew its first commercial
flight with the new jet on Nov. 4.
Shares of ANA dipped 1.1 percent in Tokyo with JAL down 0.1
in line with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.