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Passenger Snaps Photo of Fuel Pouring Out of a Dreamliner's Wing

If Boeing was looking to 2014 as a fresh start for their constantly malfunctioning Dreamliner, that particular dream is almost certainly crushed by now. In addition to one of the plane's batteries malfunctioning (again) just a few days ago, a Norweigan's Airlines flight was cancelled yesterday after a passenger noticed that fuel was pouring from a valve on the plane's wing. ( More...

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joe milazzo 18
This Ashley dosent have a clue what she's talking about. The battery fire last week was caused by a faulty battery. That very we'll could have been the operators fault (improper maintenance) or the battery manufacturers fault but not Boeing's. The airplanes were grounded last year because they couldn't contain these battery fires. The airplane last week did. If anything it's a Hugh success for Boeing.
These writers are so quick to jump on the "shit on Boeing" bandwagon they fail to educate themselves on what their writing. Just another example of stupid people doing their job with their eyes shut!!
honza nl 0
you mean it is a huge succes for Boeing as they have sourced this battery ? and they are responsible for what they sell..... and before containing a fire I prefer no fire on an airplane....

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Ric Wernicke 17
The Dreamliner landed safely at Canton because it was being flown by good pilots. A computer glitch did not deter them from flying the airplane. There were not failures of multiple systems, simply warnings. A hard reset solved the problem. Any device with a billion semiconductor junctions can have a programming misstep.

Other planes are flown by computers assisted by Systems Operators.

All things considered I'd rather be in a plane flown by a pilot.
You miss the point. no excuse, like "it was just a faulty battery, but not Boeing's fault" doesn't fly here. Indemnifying everyone except the manufacturer doesn't excuse the manufacturer from being at fault. Boeing's own systems here took a dive, and if it weren't for the pilots flying the plane, this could have ended much worse.

I'm no Airbus fanboy (I've made mention here many times that I really the E170/190 series jets from Embraer, but I'm impartial to Boeing and Airbus), but everyone lambasts Airbus for the slightest misstep, but doesn't do the same with Boeing when it happens to them. You can't have it both ways in this instance, when the B787 had a computer systems equivalent of the Gimli Glider, and for a "new plane with teething problems", the problems are adding up.

There definitely weren't anywhere near the number of problems with the B777 when it ramped up service in 1995 than we've seen here.
Tim Duggan 6
Except, well..."except" for the battery "problem" (much publicized), well...that is it.

THIS 'story', for example? Just chaff in the wind....a typical, everyday fuel vent overflow.

Thing is, the fuel venting can occur on EVERY modern commercial passenger jet, it's just a matter of the design of the specific model, and thus the location of the vent overflow.

Historically in Boeing aircraft it is near the wingtip, but the location depends on the specific design of the fuel system.

My experience in airline training is....the specific diagrams and training material text and visuals are subject to copyright.

IF you wish to learn more, there are resources available, if asked properly (i.e., an airline training facility) and IF you have a "reason" to ask.
John Berry 7
Wow, not sure if Ashley should learn to write first or learn to write about something she understands. In either case it's more than likely a lost cause, but I don't want to hurt her self esteem since she did get a 13th place ribbon in that essay competition that one time in grade school.
Bartley Yee 3
As mentioned in the article comments, she misspelled Norwegian every time it was mentioned. Also, there is tone in the "article" so this isn't some type of report, its more like an excuse to vent. And yes, she hasn't the faintest idea of what the fuel venting means. I'll bet if she is trailing a cold started car in the morning she probably is worried about the liquid stream coming out of the tailpipe. Since its connected to the engine, it must be fuel just waiting to get hot enough to ignite! NOT!
preacher1 1
Give the girl a break. She got it right in the insert(maybe she didn't write that.
Yazoo 9
Not a big deal. It's coming from the tank vent/ overfill. The ground crew may have overfilled the wing, the crew left a transfer valve open and pumped fuel into that wing, and on rare occasions, with a full tanks, the fuel will slosh out the vent from a heavy turn. and no there is no way the crew would have caught this.
Ric Wernicke 2
Maybe they could hire that Southwest mechanic that wrote next to a tear on the trailing edge of a 737 wing "We know about this." That should keep the passengers reassured.
Ric Wernicke 1
Sorry, my goof. It was an Alaska mechanic.
Tim Duggan 6
Yeah, fuel venting.

far more interesting to read are the comments left on this "Gizmodo", I mean, 'article". My favorite is this one from 'Paul':

"You literally spelled "Norwegian" wrong every single time."

Yup...he's correct!
Jason Ho 6
Marking its territory..."this taxi way is mine!"
Jason Ho 2
Also is it me or does the media want this Boeing to fail badly? I know nothing about aircraft or do i fly. Just an enthusiast who's love aircraft his entire life. Some Ya'll have great opinions though.
PhotoFinish 2
Partly it is because the 787 is a new plane. New planes always have 'issues' or 'teething problems' when they're new.

Every day there are many routine mx issues all over the world. We won't hear about most of them. It does seem we hear about most 787 issues, even the most minor.

Partly, the 787 might have more early production 'teething issues' than average because so many new technologies were introduced with this plane.

Partly we hear about the 787's problems more, because the world is so connected and news from anywhere travels everywhere quickly.

Even so, coverage of even minor issues on the 787 get covered while other similar maintenance issues on other planes don't get covered with the same intensity, if at all.

None but the battery issue (before the newer battery was designed and installed) and the engine issue that affected the 747F (with similar engines) were much significance, apart from reliability.

Boeing is working to get a handle on these issues that show up, and redesigning and reinforcing parts as needed to achieve the reliability that airlines and passengers demand.

Lastly, some intentionally spread bad news about 787, either because they work for or support a competitor or because they have something to gain from sensationalizing the problems (page views).
preacher1 3
I think a big part of the problem is as one of your lines says, the world is more connected now. A minor fuel vent this morning in ATL is a crash and fireball at LAX shortly. Couple all that with the fact that the 787 is new and is under more of a microscope now than any plane ever introduced, and you have what we have, sensationalism and speculation run rampant.
Joe Raio -8
I don't necessarily think so. A lot of attention has been put on this aircraft because its supposed to be revolutionary and it has been plagued from the start with delays and now mechanical issues.
Larry Bassett -1
I may be way off base here, but when I read your question, the first thing that came to my mind: Is it possible that the predominately "liberal" media hates Boeing due to their recent disputes with the unionized labor force?
James Carlson 2
That's silly on the face of it. Dumping on the product is no way to support labor. In fact, it's the opposite. Even a lefty like me gets that.

I think a lot of the bad press just comes from a combination of ignorance (not knowing the difference between significant and insignificant issues) and intense publication competition in a radically changing industry (journalism itself). And then, for good measure, throw in a couple of bloggers who have no journalistic credentials whatsoever.
John Atherton 2
I wonder if Ms Ashley would like to draw any parallels between this non-incident and Qantas Flight 32 out of Singapore a couple of years ago when the A380 was fresh out of the box?
chalet 1
Don't you remember it was caused by an Rolls Royce uncontained engine blow up so don't try to deflect the guilt to Airbus, OK you Airbus basher!..
John Atherton 2
The observation was intended to convey the observation that, with few exceptions, new aircraft are exposed to teething troubles and, sometimes, nasty surprises.
As for bashing Airbus, if the cap fits wear it...
chalet -1
Yes but the 787´s are way beyond and above what is reasonable.
PhotoFinish 2
Yeah, there is an unreasonable amount of innovation and introduction of new systems and new technologies. These newer designs will require more troubleshooting than if using tried and true decades-old technology. Deciding which plane to make is a significant decision. Once the decision is made, one has to understand the repercussions of the decision.

At least Boeing realized they were making a 'new' plane, that was the first implementation of many 'new' technologies on a commercial pasenger aircraft. So Boeing has a fleet operations center that tracks every 787 in live time. Boeing has also expressed an intention to fix the problems that show up repeatedly, in order to get the plane to higher reliability as quickly as possible.
David Stark 2
Gizmodo has to choose a single spelling for "Norwegian" and stick to it - hopefully the correct one.
Robert Simon 2
I simply can't figure out why people take such joy in dumping on Boeing and the Dreamliner. As innovative as this aircraft is, problems are predictable.
No reaction or quote from an experienced pilot. It takes one phone call to a Pilot training school or any number of airline pilots in the country. Lazy fact checking and reporting is about par these days.
Colin Payette 3
Good thing they had the red circle on that picture.
John M 1
In this case Boing was both manufacturer AND maintenance - the operator, Irish registered Norwegian Long Haul, are one of very few operators who took out "Gold" maintenance contracts with Boing allowing them (NLH) to escape compensation claims from delayed passangers under EU regulations.
Boeing is fixing this.
Matt LaMay 1
Ahhh...fuel overflow vent. What a PITA to clean up. I had to help a coworker clean up his spilled fuel when the wing tank shutoff valve failed to close on a WN 73G...About 100 gallons of jetA on the ramp.
Wouldn't evaporation take care of most of it? Just don't take a smoke break while waiting...
Jason Feldman 1
All aircraft have issues like this- it is in the best interest of Airbus to make a big deal of every problem that the competition (Boeing) is doing wrong. So when you see these comments remember that many of them come from people who have a vested interest one way or the other.
PhotoFinish 1
I don't see the value of creating an environment in which so many attack every little issue that the competitor's new plane experiences. Once you creqr that appetite, it'll still be there when tine comes for their own newly designed plane to fly.

You would think that the A350 would be perfect out of the starting gate. If history is any guide Airbus will have 'issues' with the A350, like they've had with every plane they've ever introduced.

The A350 uses more proven technologies (aka older technology) which should prove to create fewer issues than the 787. But they'll never have a perfect plane immediately. They'll certainly have issues. Every plane has them early on.

But if every mx issue and mx diversion is scrutinized, the A350 will take over the mantle of unreliable new (but less innovative) plane. Thus just at the time that the 787 has improved its' reliability and still be flying a more innovative plane. That airlines' profitability will lead to great appreciation of the Dreamliner (with improved reliability and best-in-class efficiency).
Does this forum have any adults on it or is it time to act like children. I see nothing but a mass group of adults attacking one another. STUPID. SO what. Planes are made by humans & humans aren't perfect. We all make mistakes & hopefully we learn from our mistakes. Fuel leak, Yes. Probably from the surge tank via the vent valve. Parts do fail for one thing or another. Troubleshoot the problem, replace the part if warranted & investigate the cause of failure of the suspect bad part. It's funny how system failures happen & it appears that just about everyone all of a sudden is a Subject Matter Expert (SME). With 40+ years of maintenance experience & also flying experience, I seen a vast amount of system failures or workings that do happen. Please act like adults instead of immature children.
preacher1 1
I don't see anything here attacking one another. I see the writer of the story getting dumped on for making something out of nothing, as she should, and there are a lot of seasoned aviators in this column, both mx and pilots, and I really don't see a lot of immature actions in this thread. Haven't seen you in here before but this thread is running as it normally does and if you don't like it, then just exit and don't re-enter.
Derek Thomas 1
Geez, and it was just a week or so ago I was praising the civility of posts in another Squawk, LOL!!!! Preach on, Preacher - this IS just a friendly "rejoinder".
preacher1 0
I just have this thing regarding things that we can control. Leave if you don't like it. Change the channel, turn it off, EXIT. LOL. Nobody forces you look or listen.
Tim Duggan 0
Maybe you didn't yet see my posts?
James Carlson 1
The solution seems simple to me: relocate the vent to a place where the pax can't see it. ;-}
preacher1 1
PhotoFinish 1

The entirety of the wing structure is visible by passengers from multiple angles. It helps to have the valves and release points close to the fuel tanks as possible, which unfortunately means making overflow fuel releases (at least from wing tanks) visible to passengers.
preacher1 0
Why it is, that with the thousands of flights that take off daily, and probably vent fuel every now and then as those vents are designed to do, and all the hoopla that gets posted on here daily, that this is the only post about fuel venting I have ever seen on here, and it is on a 787, by a writer that knows not what she is talking about and a pax with even less of an idea of what they are shooting and we have 50 comments here basically saying it is a non event. That about got it all?
Tim Duggan 1
Yup! That's about got it all.
Technology should be perfected prior to release, and not fixed on the fly as so to speak. However Microsoft in particular has brainwashed consumers into thinking that "these systems are so complex, they need constant updating and revisions".

That is the biggest bunch of humbug I have ever heard of. What it really says is, we rushed this product to market hoping it works right, or the end user never sees it's flaws. That kind of thought process may be acceptable for software, but it absolutely is unacceptable for plastic aircraft flying 40,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

Bottom line, you make the bloody thing, and you should damn well know how it should work, with all the intricacies of each part, subsystem, and system. If that is too bloody complex for them to fathom, perhaps they should be making table candles or weaving baskets.

"Teething pains" equates to lack of process control.
preacher1 5
I can agree with that to a point, BUT, even after all the multi thousand hours of testing, there are some things that just won't come to light until actually in use. The 747 had it's share of teething pains too, but in the late 60's/early 70's, we just did not have the electronic, instantaneous media coverage that we do now to report them with. The battery problem was a major thing but most of the other happenings are things that would not even lift an eyebrow were it another aircraft.
I bet you are glad you bought that apostrophe stock!
James Carlson 0
Ooh ... subtle "it's" vs. "its" burn.
Donnie Nance 0
All this complaining about the Dreamliner, come on people if I took a picture of everytime that happened I would have a photo album filled up. That passenger has obviously not seen a 767 jettison fuel.
Tim Duggan 1
Whilst I tend to agree with the sentiment of your post, and its intent...just to clarify, this photo of the B787 is NOT a fuel jettison (or, commonly called, "fuel dump"). The fuel jettison nozzles' location, one per wing, are plainly evident.

This is, as already mentioned, an over-fill/over-flow drainage issue. There are SO MANY reasons for this to occur, and it depends a great deal on the design of the fuel system, and particularly the way the over-flow is plumbed. Usually, it is designed to vent overboard nearer the wingtips, on other Boeing designs. However, the B787 may have been designed with multiple over-flow check-valves, for whatever reason.

The fuel tanks in any large airplane wing are NOT just a simplistic void, there are ribs and structures inside, with various methods (like check-valves) built-in to facilitate proper fuel containment, and distribution in normal operations.
Dave Blevins -1
Very typical specialty trained so-called journalists from the far left of the political arena. Unfortunately, there isn't a law against stupid.

And joe, regarding this part of your statement: "they fail to educate themselves on what their writing"., it would be: they're, meaning they are.

Glass houses suck.
jclark12345 -6
Maybe its Boeing secretly telling Norwegian they don't want them to fly into the US due to the way they treat their employees... Okay, probably not but they still treat their flight attendants like crap, and are close to being banned from flying to the USA.
jclark12345 1
Look It Up Before You Discredit.


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