Boeing Grapples With New Set of Technical Issues

Boeing 787 Jet on Fire

After finally settling on a new contract with Washington state union machinists, Boeing (NYSE:BA) was likely hoping for a return to normality following the brutal contract dispute. Unfortunately, “normality” for Boeing means a new round of technical issues that once again put Boeing in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

According to Norwegian Air Shuttle, Boeing engineers are at fault for a short circuit issue on December 29 in New York that caused its 787 Dreamliner to be grounded for three days, Bloomberg reports. In what was eventually proven to be a false warning, a software issue made it appear as though the brakes were being applied to one of the 787′s wheels. Norwegian Air Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos leveled his criticism directly at Boeing’s engineers, claiming that “Some of the teams they have put in place don’t have the necessary experience.”

“The sensor was wrong and it should have been fixed in five minutes,” Kjos said. “Some of the people were very good and some could have had more experience on the 787s.”

Kjos explains that Boeing’s missteps have caused significant harm to Norwegian Air’s image, which has been blasted by the Scandinavian media. However, Kjos was quick to admit that some of the problems were the fault of Norwegian Air and its passenger communication system. “Our system showed serious weaknesses in informing the passengers,” he explained.

Other recent technical hiccups include an incident revolving around a 787 in Bangkok on January 1 that resulted from a bird strike and an antenna glitch on December 21 that caused a delay as a replacement was brought in from Seattle, Washington.

But the most threatening of Boeing’s new round of technical issues is the news last Tuesday that one of Japan Airlines’ grounded 787s at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport was found to have one of its eight battery cells leaking. While Boeing told Reuters that it was “aware of the 787 issue that occurred Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell,” the threat of a new series of groundings could be devastating.

Additionally, the Chicago Tribune reports that a group of passengers onboard the Asiana Airlines that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport last summer have filed a personal injury lawsuit against Boeing with allegations of negligence. According to the lawsuit, Boeing should have been aware that its 777 jet had problematic auto-throttle control and low airspeed warnings. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that Boeing should have known its pilots were not properly trained in basic landing and safety management protocol, and that the specific pilots were not even qualified to fly on July 6, 2013.