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FAA to review Boeing 787, but calls plane safe

The interior of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is shown in this undated file photo.
January 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The Federal Aviation Administration is launching a comprehensive review of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

Federal regulators will be looking at the critical systems of the aircraft, after a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week. However, an FAA administrator said at a Friday news conference there is nothing in the data the agency has seen to suggest the plane isn't safe - the agency just wants to find out why the safety-related incidents are occurring.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood went a step further, saying, "I believe this plane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight."

The FAA says the review will include the design, manufacture and assembly of the plane.

The 787 is Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced airliner. It relies more than any other modern airliner on electrical signals to help power nearly everything the plane does.

Monday, a fire ignited in a battery pack of a Japan Airlines 787. The plane was empty of any passengers as the craft sat on the tarmac at Boston's Logan International Airport. Also, a fuel leak delayed a flight from Boston to Tokyo of another Japan Airlines 787.

On Friday, Japan's All Nippon Airways reported two new cases of problems with the aircraft. An airline spokesperson said a very small amount of oil was discovered leaking from the left engine of a 787 flight from southern Japan's Miyazaki airport to Tokyo.

ANA said on another flight, glass in a cockpit window cracked and the aircraft was grounded for repairs. Meantime, United Airlines released the following statement:

"We continue to have complete confidence in the 787 and in the ability of Boeing, with the support of the FAA, to resolve these early operational issues. We will support Boeing and the FAA throughout their review."

Boeing has said the Dreamliner's problems are no worse than what it experienced when its 777 was new in the mid-1990s.

Boeing has delivered 50 of the 787s, starting in late 2011, and has orders for nearly 800 more. To get through the backlog, Boeing is ramping up production to build 10 787s per month in Washington state and South Carolina by the end of the year. By comparison, it builds more than one 737, Boeing's best-seller, every day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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