Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:40 PM ET
Federal Aviation Administration officials said Friday they would conduct a comprehensive review of Boeing’s 787 airplane program following several high-profile mishaps including a fire. But the FAA sought Friday to reassure fliers that they still believe the airplane is safe to fly.
“We believe this is a safe aircraft,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a news conference to detail the review of the aircraft.
Huerta said the FAA would review all aspects of the new aircraft, including design and production. But the review will focus heavily on the electric components of the aircraft.
The new 787 Dreamliner, which went into service in the fall of 2011, relies much more heavily on electric components than previous airplane models.
That's one of several ways in which the 787 is groundbreaking in comparison to previous airplane models. The new, fuel-efficient aircraft also is made largely from lighter composite materials instead of aluminum, which is one reason it promises to be more fuel-efficient than comparable aircraft flying today.
Boeing officials said Friday that they welcome a review of the new model aircraft and that the FAA's scrutiny did not diminish the company's confidence in the airplane.
Ray Conner, Boeing's head of commercial airplanes, noted that this is the first all-new aircraft to enter service in quite some time, and he said it was important to emphasize that all new commercial airplanes have issues when they enter service.
But Conner said at the press briefing that none of the incidents "alters our complete confidence in the 787."
Shares in Boeing were down in early trading Friday.
Analysts said the review is a sign of a strong regulatory agency that’s just doing its job.
“There’s no reason to suspect this plane is being unsafe, but it’s important to review procedures, technology and manufacturing in light of what’s happened,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis with Teal Group.
The review is unusual, he said, but that’s only because the new 787 is unusual. It’s a brand new plane with a remarkable amount of new technology in it.
“There’s nothing that would make you question the safety of flying,” Aboulafia said.
The announcement of the FAA review comes after a difficult week for the 787 program. On Monday, a fire broke out on one of the airplanes while it was parked at Boston's Logan International Airport. No passengers were on board the Japan Airlines plane at the time.
The next day, a fuel leak forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to cancel take-off at the same airport.
Then, All Nippon Airways said Wednesday it was forced to cancel a 787 Dreamliner flight scheduled to fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo due to worries about brake problems.
The aircraft was hit by two more, separate events on Friday, both involving All Nippon Airways.
The first incident was reported by a crew flying from Tokyo to Matsuyama in western Japan, where the pilot noticed a web-like crack mid-flight in the cockpit window. The plane is currently being serviced in Matsuyama to have its window replaced.
Meanwhile, the other incident involved an oil stain, possibly a leak from the generator of the plane's left engine after completing its flight from Tokyo to southern-western Miyazaki. The plane has since been serviced and has already returned to Tokyo. None of the passengers from either flights were injured.
According to an airline spokesperson, both incidents are not unique to the Boeing 787 nor are they considered critical.
This week's issues are not the first problems for the 787 aircraft. In December, the airplane also suffered a string of mishaps.
The first Dreamliner entered service in late 2011, more than three years after Boeing initially said that the airplane would be ready for its first customer. The 787 was beset by delays during the lengthy development process, in part because of a decision to outsource large chunks of the work to outside suppliers.
Still, many expect the 787 to be an aviation success story, and aviation experts have said that glitches are common when a new aircraft enters service with a slew of new technologies.
Boeing has sold nearly 900 of the 787s, with a list price of around $207 million to $243 million. It has delivered 49 of the aircraft so far, according to the company's website.
CNBC's Philip LeBeau and Matthew J. Belvedere, NBC News Radio's Arata Yamamoto and Reuters contributed to this report.
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