Aviation Regulators Ground the 787 - But Where Does the Dreamliner Fly?

The negative recent press for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner continues after the world’s operators of the type followed Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL), and announced the immediate grounding of their 787 fleets for technical inspections.  This followed an ANA aircraft being forced to make an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan on January 16, 2013 while en route from Yamaguchi Ube in western Japan to Tokyo's Haneda Airport after a message highlighting battery problems and a burning smell was detected in the cockpit and the cabin.

Just over a week earlier a JAL 787 was involved in a major incident at Boston’s Logan International Airport after a fire ignited in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of the empty aircraft while it sat on the ground at the US airport on January 7, 2013.  The Japanese Transport Ministry has also this week been inspecting another JAL aircraft at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport which allegedly had suffered a fuel leak on its past two rotations.

All the Japanese Dreamliners were stuck on the ground from January 16, 2013 and later that day airlines across the world followed as safety authorities introduced their own grounding recommendations.  This was the same day that LOT Polish Airlines introduced the type on its Warsaw – Chiacago route to a big media fanfare – the aircraft is now stuck in the US city after yesterday’s return flight was cancelled.

Since its formal launch, the Dreamliner has been hit hard by a series of production and operational issues, which delayed its entry into service for more than three years.  The aircraft has also witnessed a number of in-service problems, although this is not necessarily unusual for a new aircraft type.  However, the aircraft brings significant benefits to the aviation market and opportunities to the world’s airlines, which is clearly visible in Boeing’s 848 aircraft orderbook, from at least 55 different customers.

Many would argue that the 787 has had more problems than any other type but we have to remember that the media are quick to report any defect with the aircraft and even some flight diversions due to weather have been highlighted by some media platforms across the globe, such is the high level of interest in the type.  With all these stories we tend to forget the 787 represents a big step in technology advancement for the industry and also brings environmental enhancements through reduced emissions and health benefits through the higher humidity levels in the cabin.

From a route development point of view the range and operational performance of the aircraft also enables new direct links to be introduced and that has already been seen in the network plans from both ANA and JAL and the proposed schedules of Thomson Airways, which is due to launch its own operations with the type this year. 

The arrival of the first aircraft with Thomson Airways in the first quarter of this year will see the Dreamliner make its debut in the charter sector and will bring opportunities for the carrier’s parent to offer many new niche travel options that it previously could not operate.  The aircraft will initially enter service on routes from London Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports to Orlando Sanford in Florida, USA and Cancun supporting the Inclusive Tour packages of its sister companies First Choice and Thomson Holidays.  However, longer-term the carrier has highlighted additional growth opportunities as revealed by our sister blog, Airline Route, this week (click here to see post).

According to Boeing, it has currently delivered 49 Dreamliners to Air India (five), ANA (17), Ethiopian Airlines (four), JAL (seven), LAN Airlines (three), LOT Polish Airlines (two), Qatar Airways (five) and United Airlines (six).  In the table below we highlight the routes scheduled to be being served by the 787 this month.

BOEING 787 DREAMLINER SCHEDULED ROUTES IN JANUARY 2013 (non-stop departures)

Airline

Origin

Destinations

Air India (AI)

New Delhi Indira Gandhi International (DEL)

Bangalore, Chennai, Dubai, Frankfurt, Kolkata, Paris

All Nippon Airways (NH)

Tokyo Haneda (HND)

Beijing, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kogashima, Kumamoto, Matsuyama, Miyazaki, Okayama, Osaka, Sapporo, Takamatsu, Ube

Tokyo Narita (NRT)

San Jose, Seattle

Ethiopian Airlines (ET)

Addis Ababa Bole International (ADD)

Abuja, Beijing, Dubai, Frankfurt, Harare, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda, Mumbai, Toronto

Japan Airlines (JL)

Tokyo Haneda (HND)

Beijing, Singapore

Tokyo Narita (NRT)

Boston, Moscow, San Diego, Singapore

LAN Airlines (LA)

Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez International (SCL)

Buenos Aires, Lima, Los Angeles

LOT Polish Airlines (LO)

Warsaw Chopin (WAW)

Brussels, Budapest, Chicago, Frankfurt, Hanover, London, Prague, Vienna

Qatar Airways (QR)

Doha International (DOH)

Dubai, Kuwait, London, Munich, Zurich

United Airlines (UA)

George Bush Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

Chicago, Denver, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Los Angeles International (LAX)

Tokyo