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More concerns for Boeing after Dreamliner engine malfunction

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Jeff Horwich: Boeing’s been having a few nightmares lately with its Dreamliner. The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s flagship airplane of the future: fuel efficient, quieter cabin, American-made. And it was near the Charleston, S.C., assembly plant that something got sucked into a 787’s engine on Saturday and sparked a grass fire on the runway. The engines are made by General Electric. That follows an incident last week when Japan’s All Nippon Airways temporarily grounded its 787’s to fix an engine problem.

Brian Foley is an airline analyst, president of Brian Foley Associates. Thanks for joining us.

Brian Foley: Good morning.

Horwich: So, walking into work this morning at Boeing, do you think there’s a great deal of concern there?

Foley: Absolutely. That is something to keep an eye on and find out what the root cause of that problem was. There are some GE engines currently flying with Japan Airlines, now. So they of course want to make sure this isn’t a systemic problem, and try to find the cause and make good on it.

Horwich: Is this kind of thing fairly typical for the rollout of a new aircraft?

Foley: Normally you’d have these kind of bugs behind you, but then again, it’s a new machine, and sometimes things can’t be foreseen. But you really want to try to shake these things out during the major flight test process, and not just before delivery to a customer.

Horwich: Of course we’re all standing outside the process here — we don’t know the details of exactly what happened — but do you see anything that air passengers might be worried about?

Foley: Well, the good regulators are keeping an eye on this, but they’re in that process now of, I’m sure, looking through the engine to see if it’s a widespread concern or just a one-off chance that happened to that airplane.

Horwich: This particular plane was headed for Air India. Do you think they might be having second thoughts?

Foley: I’m not sure about second thoughts, but I’m sure it has their attention. You know, an airline has to plan ahead when it has new equipment coming in, so it could leave the airline on alert if they don’t have an alternative plan, if there is some additional delay.

Horwich: Aviation analyst Brian Foley, thanks a lot.

Foley: OK, take care. Bye bye.

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