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Dreamliner deliveries continue, but not without snags

01-01-2013

Boeing ramped up production of its first new jet in more than 15 years, the 787 Dreamliner, meeting its goal of delivering nearly 50 of the aircraft this year. While the aircraft is winning rave reviews from many passengers for its roomier cabin with LED lighting and large, dimmable windows, the jet has had a series of maintenance stumbles. First the National Transportation Safety Board pushed for checks of the shafts in the 787’s GE engines, some of which had fractures that could have caused engine failure, as happened on a 787 performing a taxiing test. In separate incidents, one 787 had to divert on a revenue flight when a generator failed, and the FAA required that 787s in the U.S. be checked for fuel line connectors that had been improperly assembled. But most aviation analysts regarded the problems as relatively minor, as long as Boeing can stick to its delivery schedule for the new plane and avoid further snafus. The competing Airbus A350 has also been delayed in development, as the 787 was. The A350 is expected to make its first flight in mid-2013, with deliveries starting sometime in 2014.