The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 16 issued a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) to address what the agency called an “unsafe condition” on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.
The issue concerns the front and rear cargo holds of the aircraft. The FAA was alerted by operators of the Boeing plane to “multiple incidents of torn decompression panels found in the bilge area”.
A previous FAA AD on the same Dreamliner component already asked operators to perform repeated inspections for defects or damage to decompression barriers in the baggage hold.
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Now the US aviation regulator has mandated that widebody users perform a “changing or replacing the bilge barrier assembly in the forward and aft cargo compartments.”
According to the FAA, if the problem is not remedied, in the event of a fire in the cargo, the firefighting system installed in the baggage hold may be insufficient to control it. As a consequence, “could result in the loss of continued safe flight and
landing of the airplane”, warns the US authority.
The new directive will affect 135 Boeing 787s registered in the US. Each aircraft inspection will cost operators around $255, while changing or replacing the barrier in the hold costs as much as $12,695 per aircraft, according to FAA estimates.
Quality issues halted 787 deliveries three times
In February, the FAA banned Boeing from delivering new 787 jets to customers until a production problem with the aircraft was resolved. The defect was related to a pressure bulkhead in the forward part of the fuselage, which was supplied by Spirit AeroSystems.
This is the third time that Boeing has been forced to temporarily halt 787 deliveries due to production issues. The most recent break, however, lasted less than a month, unlike the previous ones.
The last break in 787 deliveries lasted 15 months. Deliveries resumed in August 2022, when Boeing had more than 100 aircraft in storage awaiting FAA clearance. In the first suspension, in 2020, deliveries were stopped for seven months.
Last month, the FAA issued a safety bulletin for the Dreamliner. The reason: the faucets in the toilets can leak, under the risk of water running into the plane’s electronic systems and damaging them.