Panel falling off Dreamliner 'totally undesirable': DGCA

Panel falling off Dreamliner 'totally undesirable': DGCA

The Civil Aviation Ministry today termed as "totally undesirable" a panel falling off a Boeing 787 Dreamliner while landing at the Bangalore airport over a week ago, but said the incident had not endangered the safety of passengers and the aircraft.

A team of engineers from Boeing has also joined their counterparts from DGCA and Air India to investigate how a large panel fell off, Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra told reporters when asked about the incident.

"It was totally undesirable. But it did not have any implication for safety of the aircraft or passengers, though we are not condoning it," he said.

Boeing officials said they were working alongside Air India to provide support and also maintained that this was "not a safety-of-flight issue".

Preliminary probe into the incident has found that some screws were loose and the 8x4 feet panel, which was part of the plane's belly, was secured during the flight only with about half a dozen screws instead of 17 required.

After becoming partially detached and clinging on for almost two hours, the panel finally gave in to strong winds and fell off just before the aircraft landed in Bangalore, leaving a gaping hole in the cargo hold area. The Air India Dreamliner was carrying 148 passengers and crew from Delhi.

Officials said the panel had been examined and found to have undergone severe stress from the high wind pressure. "We are examining the possibility of a design flaw," an official said on condition of anonymity.

The incident came in the wake of a series of problems faced by the new aircraft, starting with the battery fire issues that grounded all Dreamliners across the world for four months. In July, a fire broke out in an empty aircraft that was parked at Heathrow in London. PTI ARC ZMN 10211953

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