US FAA Alerts Airlines, including Air India to Modify B787 Dreamliners with New Fixes and Avert Risks

The way the United States is taking strides to reach new milestones in aviation, it seems like a dark horse galloping towards the ultimate crowning moment in global aviation, on strength of multi-billion-dollar airport renovation projects, futuristic checkpoint technology and eco-friendly bio fuel. For instance, Delta Airlines, which will make its much hyped comeback to India with nonstop flights to Mumbai from New York JFK in December, has been working on a project worth over $12 billion to enhance customer experience from the ground to the air.

In a bid to keep its airports and travelers safe from potential glitches in braking and steering functions of Boeing 787 Dreamliner models, the United States has issued an alert to all non-US airlines including Air India. The alert does equally apply to Air India which has 26 B787 Dreamliners in its fleet. But, the national carrier of India, which operates direct flights to Delhi from USA and other countries, agrees to comply with the alert on one hand and contradicts it on the other.

Air India says ardently its Dreamliners, which make a collective driving force in operating long-haul, nonstop flights between USA and India, and to other parts of the world – are perfectly safe to fly.

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The US Federal Aviation Administration’s airworthiness directive (AD) carries a service bulletin that lists the components to be replaced in Boeing 787 Dreamliners of Air India and other airlines. A senior Air India official sounded committed while saying, “We will replace the listed components to upgrade our Dreamliners at the earliest within five years stipulated by FAA; but it does not mean that grounding of the planes until the required replacement of certain components.”

He assures that safety of travelers aboard Dreamliners in Air India’s fleet is not compromised even if the components are not replaced immediately.

Air India is looking to start modifying each of the B787s as soon as spares are available during the next ‘C Check’ of its fleet. C Check is an intensive maintenance check of aircraft components, and the airline carries out it at a hanger once in every two years. The airline is looking forward to writing to Directorate General of Civil Aviation regarding the required modification of its Dreamliners which are mostly deployed for operating flights to India from USA and other countries in its global network.

Air India whose direct flights to Mumbai from New York have been discontinued for an indefinite period of time plans to schedule C-Check of its B787 Dreamliners, and the schedule will be given to Boeing ensuring that spare parts are available on time for replacement of the components listed on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s service bulletin.

The latest airworthiness directive that FAA issued on May 2, 2019 for certain B787-8 and B787-9 models came into effect on June 6. In 2017 and 2018, all 787 Dreamliner operators were issued three service bulletins to fix an identified issue with certain components in the tire/wheel threat zones of Boeing Dreamliner aircraft, according to Boeing. FAA’s airworthiness directive (AD) aligns with Boeing’s three service bulletins to Dreamliner operators including Air India, since only a regulatory agency like FAA reserves the right to obligate carriers for safety checks, new fixes, etc.

Prompted by FAA’s investigation of certain B787-8 and B787-9 models, the airworthiness directive makes it clear that some components in the tire/wheel threat zones of Dreamliners are likely to experience a snag, which could cause loss of nose wheel steering control and damage to braking on the main landing gear truck. The FAA airworthiness directive mandates three new installations – hydraulic tubing, flight control software and pressure-operated check valve – to B787 Dreamliner operators, including Air India.

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