Passengers question Dreamliner safety

2013-05-15 10:12
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New York - Two airline passenger groups in the United States have recently challenged the safety of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Travelmole reports that, among their demands, the US government must limit flights on the new widebody jets until the safety of its lithium-ion batteries is proven.

FlyersRights.org and the Aviation Consumer Action Project have despatched petitions to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a two-hour limit from the nearest airport on 787 flights.

However, the FAA has issued the Boeing 787 with certificates to fly up to three hours from the nearest airport in 2011, based on guarantees from Boeing that the plane was safe. But the FAA grounded the entire 787 fleet in January this year following a battery fire on one 787 and smoke on another.

"Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary; the 787 lithium ion batteries have a long history of overheating, catching fire, even exploding. This could easily bring down an airliner, especially if it was not within easy reach of an airport for an emergency landing." said attorney Paul Hudson, a leader of both organisations and a prominent aviation-safety advocate.

The advocacy groups' formal list of complaints is supported by testimony from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, a prominent battery-safety consultant, and former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo.

Contrary to passenger argument, limiting the 787 to flights within two hours of the nearest airport would prohibit trans-Pacific flights and flights over the North Pole, but flights between the US and Europe and flights over land would not be affected.

Although US investigators are still unsure what led to the batteries to overheat, the FAA has agreed on a proposed Boeing fix that the manufacturer claims would stop any fires that started.

United Airlines remains the only US carrier with a fleet of 787s and is planned to resume flying 787 on May 20.

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