U.S. launches safety review of 787 after recent issues

Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:06am EST
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By Deborah Charles and Alwyn Scott

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government ordered a wide-ranging review of Boeing's latest passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner, citing concern over a fire and other recent problems but insisting the plane was still safe to fly.

It was unclear how long the review will take or how much it will ultimately cost Boeing, but the company was concerned enough that it sent a top executive to a Washington press conference on the problem. Boeing shares (BA.N: Quote) fell 3 percent.

The 787 represented a leap in the way planes are designed and built, but the project was plagued by cost overruns and years of delays. Some have suggested Boeing's rush to get planes built after those delays resulted in the recent problems, a charge the company strenuously denies.

Either way, regulators said a thorough examination was needed to identify the root cause of the problems, including a fire on a parked 787 on Monday.

"There are concerns about recent events involving the Boeing 787. That is why today we are conducting a comprehensive review," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a news conference followed by more than 100 reporters around the world.

Those concerns notwithstanding, though, LaHood also maintained the plane was still airworthy.

"I believe this plane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight," he said.

While the FAA launched its review, Boeing customer All Nippon Airways (9202.T: Quote) had a launch of its own, initiating Dreamliner service between Tokyo and the Silicon Valley hub of San Jose. Passengers preparing to board shook off any suggestion they might be worried.   Continued...

Airport staff send off All Nippon Airways' (ANA) Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner plane before it takes off for its Tokyo-San Jose flight at New Tokyo international airport in Narita, east of Tokyo January 11, 2013. ANA launched their maiden service between Tokyo and San Jose, California with the Dreamliner. REUTERS/Shohei Miyano