Timeline: Boeing's 787 Dreamliner woes

(Reuters) - Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner was set to be a game-changer for the commercial airplane industry as its use of lighter materials and new construction methods promised huge savings in fuel and maintenance costs.

On Friday, a 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at Britain’s Heathrow airport in a fresh blow for the U.S. planemaker.

A series of delays and mishaps have plagued the aircraft since its launch in 2004:


April 26 - Boeing launches the 787 Dreamliner, the first commercial jetliner to extensively use both lightweight carbon composite construction and powerful electrical systems with lithium-ion batteries.


September - Boeing delays planned first flight of the 787 Dreamliner, citing out-of-sequence production work, including parts shortages, and software and systems integration arising from its new production technique.

The company has outsourced Dreamliner production to about 50 suppliers from the United States and around the world. Boeing retrieves the completed components and assembles the aircraft in Everett, Washington.

October 10 - Boeing delays first flight and deliveries of the 787 due to challenges in assembling the passenger jet. Deliveries are now slated to begin in late November or December 2008, versus an original target of May 2008. (


Nov 9 - A 787 test airplane is forced to make an emergency landing after fire breaks out in an electronics bay during flight trials.


September - Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co receives its first 787 Dreamliner, delayed from 2008.


July - A General Electric Co engine on a 787 in North Charleston, South Carolina, breaks during a preflight test. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stops short of grounding planes for inspections.

December 4 - A United Airlines 787 is forced to make an emergency landing in New Orleans after experiencing electrical problems.

December 5 - U.S. regulators ask airlines flying the 787 Dreamliners to make extra inspections to ensure the planes do not experience engine failure or fire due to a manufacturing fault in the fuel line.

December 13 - Qatar Airways grounds one of its three 787s after finding the same electrical problem that affected the United flight.

December 17 - United Airlines and Boeing confirm that a second plane in United’s fleet of Dreamliners had suffered electrical problems.


January 7 - A parked 787 operated by Japan Airlines catches fire at Boston Logan International Airport after a battery in an auxiliary power system explodes.

January 8 - A second Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines leaks fuel at Logan, forcing it to cancel its takeoff and return to the gate.

January 8 - United Airlines finds the same wiring problem on one of its 787 jets that caused the January 7 fire on the Japan Airlines’ jet, the Wall Street Journal reports.

January 9 - Japan’s ANA cancels a 787 flight scheduled for a domestic trip within Japan due to brake problems.

January 11 - The U.S. Department of Transportation says the 787 will undergo a comprehensive review of its critical systems.

January 13 - The Japan Airlines 787 that leaked fuel in Boston on January 8 experiences another, separate fuel leak while undergoing checks in Tokyo.

January 14 - Japan’s transport ministry launches an investigation into the cause of the fuel leaks on Japan Airlines’ Dreamliner jets.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it is analyzing the lithium-ion battery and burned wire bundles as part of its investigation of the January 7 Japan Airlines fire.

January 15 - ANA grounds all 17 of its 787 jets after another aircraft is forced to make an emergency landing. Japan Airlines suspends all 787 flights scheduled to leave Japan.

January 16 - The FAA temporarily grounds all 787s after the January 15 ANA emergency landing. Europe, Japan and India join the United States in grounding the jets.

January 17 - Japan Transport Safety Board says the battery onboard the ANA flight was blackened and carbonized on the inside, Kyodo News reports.

January 18 - Aviation safety officials wrap up their initial investigation of the badly damaged battery and say further checks could take a week to complete. Boeing halts deliveries of the jet.

January 22 - U.S. Senate says it will hold a hearing in the coming weeks to examine aviation safety oversight and the FAA’s decision to allow Boeing to use highly flammable lithium-ion batteries on board the 787.

January 23 - Japanese regulators join their U.S. counterparts in all but ruling out overcharged batteries as the cause of recent 787 fires.

January 24 - The NTSB says systems designed to prevent battery fire aboard the Dreamliner passenger jet did not work as intended.

February 4 - Boeing asks the FAA for permission to conduct test flights of the 787 Dreamliner.

February 6 - Boeing is working on battery design changes that would minimize fire risks on the 787 and could have the passenger jet flying again as soon as March, the Wall Street Journal reports.

February 7 - U.S. agencies clear Boeing to restart test flights of the 787 in order to get more data on potentially faulty batteries.

February 8 - Boeing warns two European airlines of delays in Dreamliner deliveries.

March 12 - The FAA approves Boeing plan to certify a redesigned battery system on the 787 Dreamliner and will permit two aircraft limited flights to test it.

April 19 - The FAA approves the revamped battery system for the 787 Dreamliner and allows Boeing to immediately begin making repairs to the fleet of 50 planes owned by airlines around the world.

Compiled by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker