Fuel Leak and Fire Spark Safety Concerns over Boeing's New Dreamliner

In the past two days, three of Boeing's newest planes, the 787 Dreamliners, have been involved in safety scares, adding to public concern about the overall safety of the aircraft model. The Dreamliner is the first commercial jet to be made from light-weight composite material that includes carbon fibers. The Dreamliner made its debut in October 2011 with its first commercial flight.

On January 7, an electrical fire sparked on a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines at Boston's Logan airport; investigators determined that a battery in the auxiliary power unit aboard the plane had suffered "severe fire damage". The electrical fire is particularly troubling because the 787 relies heavily on electrical power for onboard systems that are run by air pressure generated by the engines in other jets.

The next day at Logan, a fuel leak forced a second 787, also operated by JAL, to cancel takeoff. The plane had to be towed back to the gate after about 40 gallons of fuel had spilled. All 178 passengers and 11 crew members on board the plane were evacuated.

In the third incident of the week, an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan was canceled on January 9 after the crew discovered an error message related to the Dreamliner's braking system.

These back-to-back incidents are just the latest in a series of problems that have affected the jets. Since October 2011 the plane model has repeatedly suffered mechanical problems. In July 2012, a 787 engine blew apart on the ground in South Carolina, prompting changes in how the engines are made. A similar engine failed on a Boeing 747 in Shanghai in September of the same year.

The Dreamliner's run of electrical problems began December 4, 2012 when a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark had to make an emergency landing after it appeared that one of its power generators failed. United later blamed a faulty electrical panel for the mishap. On December 13, Qatar Airways grounded one of its three 787 jets for the same problem. Four days later, a second 787 in the United fleet developed electrical issues. Later that month, fuel leaks were found on two 787s operated by foreign airlines. The leaks were caused by incorrectly assembled fuel line couplings, which could cause a loss of power or an engine fire.

With so many problems plaguing the jet plane, passengers are bound to feel slightly nervous when boarding a flight on a new 787. The aviation accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin hope Boeing can work out the jet's design kinks before anyone is hurt by a mechanical error or other mishap.

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