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FAA Review Finds Dreamliner 'Fundamentally Sound'

Mar 20, 2014
Originally published on March 20, 2014 5:37 am
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A year after grounding Boeing's entire fleet of 787 aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration now calls the plane, known as the Dreamliner, safe.

But as NPR's David Schaper reports, the FAA's review of the troubled jet did find some manufacturing problems.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The FAA ordered a comprehensive review of the plane Boeing calls its Dreamliner in January of last year, after serious battery fires on a couple of the new jets.

A team of FAA and Boeing technical experts spent months examining the Dreamliner's high tech, fuel-efficient design, and finds it to be fundamentally sound. The experts also find that the aircraft meets its intended safety level.

But the review does cite problems in Boeing's manufacturing process, and it says both Boeing and the FAA were lax in quality control oversight of the plane's global supply chain.

Still, reaction to the report is positive.

DANIEL FRIEDENZOHN: I think it's a great sign for Boeing. I think it's a good sign for its customers.

SCHAPER: Daniel Friedenzohn is a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

FRIEDENZOHN: I certainly think that it's a boost of confidence for the product. I mean if you're, you know, regulatory authority, governing agency gives it a thumbs up, that's always a good sign.

SCHAPER: But Friedenzohn and others caution that the National Transportation Safety Board still has not finished its investigation into what caused the battery fires.

David NewMyer chairs the aviation department at Southern Illinois University.

DAVID NEWMYER: I don't think it's totally over yet, but I think that the 787 can move on to the next stage and do so with some cautious optimism.

SCHAPER: The NTSB would not comment on the FAA review, but its investigation into the 787 battery fires could be completed by the end of this month.

David Schaper, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.