Panel of Boeing 787 Dreamliner falls off en route to Bangalore

Panel of Boeing 787 Dreamliner falls off en route to Bangalore

The Boeing Dreamliners recently acquired by Air India are giving nightmares to the flagship carrier instead of a dream run. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now launched a probe into an incident involving a Bangalore-bound Dreamliner aircraft on Saturday.

A large panel in the belly of a Dreamliner aircraft on a flight, which took off from New Delhi for Bangalore, fell off leaving a large hole in the cargo hold. The plane landed in Bangalore safely though the incident put the 148 passengers, including crew, on board at risk.

An 8X4 feet panel in the fuselage fell off while the plane was on its way to Bangalore, officials said. The hole in the cargo hold was noticed by the ground staff when they came to inspect the aircraft for its return journey. A thorough examination was conducted and a spare panel was flown to Bangalore and fitted onto the Boeing 787, which was later declared fit to fly. However, the return flight was delayed by around nine hours.

Besides long-haul international operations, Air India operates Dreamliners on domestic routes like Delhi to Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

The incident came in the wake of a series of problems faced by the new aircraft, starting with a battery-fire incident that grounded all Dreamliners across the world for four months. In July again, a fire broke out in an empty aircraft parked at Heathrow airport.

The inaugural Dreamliner flight on September 18 last year itself was jinxed with a 'minor' problem in the plane's air conditioning giving anxious moments. The problem in the first flight led to the delay of the second flight, which was to operate between Delhi and Bangalore. India took possession of six Dreamliners last September after it placed an order for 27 planes in 2005.

"The first Dreamliner Boeing 787 on its first day of operation flew on three sectors -- Delhi-Chennai, Madras-Delhi and Delhi-Bangalore. While on the first two sectors, it flew without any technical snag, on the third sector Delhi-Bangalore, after push back and both engines start, the aircraft returned due a snag in its Power Equipment Liquid Cooling System and Electrical Power System. On satisfactory resolution of the snag, the aircraft was dispatched for commercial services," the Civil Aviation Ministry told Parliament last year.

The six Dreamliners were temporarily grounded in January 17 this year by Air India following a directive of the DGCA subsequent to an incident of fire caused by the malfunctioning of the Lithium-Ion battery powering the Auxiliary Power Unit of the aircraft. After the problem was rectified, the Dreamliners returned to the skies in June.

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