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January 14, 2013

New “Dreamliner” Airplane Under Federal Review

Watch Boeing 787 Dreamline Incidents Prompt FAA to Make Review on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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After a series of electrical problems grounded several flights in the past month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it was starting a comprehensive review into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Last month, a United Airlines 787 from Houston to Newark was diverted to New Orleans after one of its six electrical generators failed midflight.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways have also reported problems with several of their Dreamliners. Inspectors are suspicious of the rechargeable lithium ion batteries, which contain a flammable liquid.

Boeing has defended their product so far. Ray Connor of Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft Division said, “It’s important to emphasize that every new commercial airplane has issues as they enter service, and none of these in-service issues have ever — seen thus far alters our complete confidence in the 787.”

Ray LaHood, the U.S. secretary of transportation also sought to calm fears about dangerous air travel.

“I believe this plane is safe. And I would have absolutely no reservation of boarding one of these planes and taking a flight. These planes are safe,” he said.

The FAA didn’t announce a timetable for completing its review.

Warm up questions

1. Who makes sure that airplanes are safe?

2. Do you think air travel is safe? Why or why not?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think the FAA should ground all 787s until the investigation is complete? Why or why not?

2. Do you think that government regulators are important in a business like the airline industry? Why or why not?

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