Hope may spring eternal, but patience doesn’t. And it may be that the patience of flyers has been stressed to the breaking point by the unnerving string of problems besetting Boeing’s highest-profile aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.
In the latest blow to the high-tech plane’s credibility, an Ethiopian Airlines 787 parked at London’s Heathrow Airport caught fire on July 12, temporarily forcing the suspension of flights at one of the world’s busiest airports. And on the same day, a 787 operated by charter company Thomson Airways was forced to jettison its fuel and return to Manchester.
The causes of both incidents are under investigation.
The airlines have a vested financial interest in downplaying safety concerns associated with the new plane. As does Boeing. And both have been steadfast in their contention that the 787 is basically sound and safe.
And it seemed that travelers for the most part were willing to accept those assurances.
But on Sunday, a front-page New York Times article appeared under the headline “Airlines Confident in Boeing’s 787, but Doubts Linger”.
The question for consumers, of course, is whether those doubts are sufficiently pressing to book away from airlines flying the 787, or at least to make it a point to book flights operated with other planes.
The appearance of high-profile media articles referencing “doubt” in their titles is exactly the kind of development that could signal and promote a sea change in flyers’ attitude toward the 787.
We may, in other words, be at a tipping point, or at least close to one.
Chronology of Dreamliner Issues, Events
About the 787 Dreamliner
The Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airliner, featuring such cutting-edge technology as lithium-ion batteries and a composite-plastic body.
The first 787 was received by ANA in September 2011, and since then more than 50 787s have been delivered to 13 airline customers, including United.
The company has taken orders for 930 Dreamliners, and Boeing hopes to sell as many as 5,000 during the lifetime of the plane.
Reader Reality Check
Where do you stand, today, on the safety of Boeing’s 787?
Are you losing faith in the plane’s safety?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.