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Fuel Leak At Logan Airport Adds To Trouble For Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Posted: January 8, 2013

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A fuel leak Tuesday on a Tokyo-bound Japan Airlines flight forced the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to cancel takeoff and return to the gate at Boston's Logan International Airport. It was the second incident involving a Dreamliner in two days after a small fire on a 787 on Monday.

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet aircraft is surrounded by emergency vehicles while parked at a Terminal E gate at Logan International Airport in Boston on Monday. A small electrical fire filled the cabin of the JAL aircraft with smoke about 15 minutes after it landed in Boston.

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet aircraft is surrounded by emergency vehicles while parked at a Terminal E gate at Logan International Airport in Boston on Monday. A small electrical fire filled the cabin of the JAL aircraft with smoke about 15 minutes after it landed in Boston. Stephan Savoia

A fuel leak Tuesday on a Tokyo-bound Japan Airlines flight forced the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to cancel takeoff and return to the gate at Boston's Logan International Airport. It was the second incident involving a Dreamliner in two days.

Here's how Logan airport described the incident on its Facebook page:

"Massport crews are on the airfield containing a fuel leak from an outbound Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo. The venting of fuel has stopped. The flight will return to the gate and be evaluated further at that time."

The flight later took off en route to Tokyo. Reuters reported that the National Transportation Safety Board won't investigate the fuel leak because there was no accident.

Tuesday's incident follows a small fire on a parked Japan Airlines Dreamliner on Monday. No passengers or crew were onboard at the time. The NTSB said one investigator was already on the scene to investigate the fire and two others were on their way to Boston.

Here's more from the NTSB about Monday's incident:

"The NTSB investigator on scene found that the auxiliary power unit battery had severe fire damage. Thermal damage to the surrounding structure and components is confined to the area immediately near the APU battery rack (within about 20 inches) in the aft electronics bay."

NPR's Tovia Smith reported on Monday's fire for our Newscast Unit. She notes that the Dreamliner has had several other "electrical problems, as well as an engine failure and fuel leaks the Dreamliners have suffered since the new jet model came into service just over a year ago."

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that United Airlines found improperly installed wiring on one of its Boeing 787s during an inspection after Monday's incident at Logan.

On Dec. 5, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive for the Dreamliner. Here's what the directive said:

"We have received reports of fuel leaks on two different in-service airplanes, and the subsequent discovery of several improperly assembled engine fuel feed manifold couplings on in-service and production airplanes. The improper coupling installations, which occurred during production, have included couplings with missing or improperly installed lockwire, parts within the couplings installed in the wrong locations, incorrect parts installed in the couplings, and couplings that have extra parts installed. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in fuel leaks, which could lead to fuel exhaustion, engine power loss or shutdown, or leaks on hot engine parts that could lead to a fire."

The aircraft has had a bumpy ride even before it was airborne, as noted in an NPR story by Wendy Kaufman. She noted that the 787 has "produced a lot of headaches from the outset." And we also reported on the 787's first commercial flight on October 2011. But as we noted at the time, the reviews for the plane were glowing.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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