Another Boeing 787 Dreamliner Has a Battery Problem

Japan Airlines grounded a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft today “after detecting smoke or gases that may have come from faults with the main battery,” according to the BBC.

Last year, all 787s were grounded for three months, CBS reports, after a “fire in a lithium ion battery aboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport. That was followed nine days later by another battery incident that forced an emergency landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways 787.Today’s battery problem was noticed during scheduled maintenance. No passengers were on board the plane at the time.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The lithium-ion battery system was found to ‘venting’ gas while the plane sat at Narita International Airport in Japan, Boeing said.”

Inside United’s First 787 Dreamliner At Boeing HQ

We knew it was coming, but now that we’ve had a chance to step on board United Airlines’ latest jetliner in person, we’ll surely be counting the days until we can ease into one of those airborne recliners as the carrier’s 787 takes to the skies. Just days after getting its first coat of paint (and that unique nose-to-tail swoop), United opened up its Dreamliner for journalists, select customers and a handful of staffers to take a first look at the 787’s interior, which includes 36 flat-bed BusinessFirst seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, 72 Economy Plus seats with up to 36 inches of pitch and 111 Economy seats with a fairly standard 32 inches of pitch.

You could have garnered that from glancing at a seat map. What’s not so clear is just how magnificent this aircraft is to ride, or, in the case of our grounded demo at Boeing’s Everett factory today, how it looks from the ground. This isn’t our first trip down the aisles of a 787, having flown on ANA’s Dreamliner with Engadget in Japan last year. In comparison to the 777, however, where we’ve spent weeks of time in flight, it’s quite exciting to see how the in-flight experience is improving, even when compared to the pleasant ride on the carrier’s previous-generation flagship.

%Gallery-161659%United will be operating the Dreamliner on new and existing routes, and while we don’t know exactly where the 787 will fly first, service is slated begin later this year. The first confirmed route will launch on March 31st between Denver and Tokyo, growing direct service between the Japanese hub and the U.S. to 10 cities (including Honolulu and Guam). Passengers on board those flights will certainly appreciate the oversized dimmable windows and giant overhead bins, along with all-LED lighting, which sadly are limited to basic color configurations, rather than the ANA we’ve seen during boarding on ANA.

The 787 is more than a foot narrower than the 777, but United maintained the same seating configuration as its Continental acquisitions, which you might assume makes the aircraft seem a bit cramped. The higher ceilings and open feel made the difference almost unnoticeable, however, and the Continental-era BusinessFirst seats on board are still far superior to United’s own triple-7 layout, where four center seats mean you could end up paying for a bed yet still have a middle seat. Here, just like on those select triple-7s (mostly used on flights beginning in Houston or Newark), biz seats offer much more privacy, with more personal space and substantial dividers.


In the Y-cabin, seats seemed cushier than what we’ve used on United’s existing fleet, and feature the same in-flight entertainment system installed on some of the carrier’s current aircraft. Like BusinessFirst, these seats also feature larger dimmable windows and overhead bins which reportedly offer 30 percent more capacity than those on United’s 777. Rows 16 and 27 have substantially more legroom than other Economy Plus seats. In fact, there’s so much space between the window-side seats in row 27 that you could plop down a sleeping bag and camp out on the floor if the FAA permitted it.

Surprisingly, the most spacious seats on the plane aren’t in this row or even in the business cabin, but instead are located up a flight of stairs in a hidden second level. Two sets of crew quarters are located at the far forward and far aft positions, behind doors marked “Crew Only.” Through those doors and up a small flight of stairs you’ll find two full-size beds in the front of the Dreamliner and six in the rear. There’s not much room to do much other than sleep, but thick, full-length mattresses will surely enable pilots and flight attendants to make good use of scheduled rest periods.

We felt quite comfy during our visit to United’s 787, even on the main level, and while we couldn’t experience the boosted humidity, increased cabin pressure, noise suppression and computer-assisted smooth performance, it’s clear that the Dreamliner will be very popular among United passengers. There’s a few months to go until you can take a flight of your own, but we have plenty of photos to tide you over for now. Thumb through the galleries for a closer look, then scroll down below for a hands-on video from Engadget.

How Would You Like To Name Thomas Airways’ New Boeing 787 Dreamliner?

For those who have ever dreamed of naming a commercial airplane and having their creativity being broadcast in the sky for all to see, you may want to enter Thomson Airways’ new contest. The airline is reaching out to Twitter users for help naming their brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Britain. Beginning in May 2013, Thomson will become the first British airline to operate the plane.

Using the hashtag #nameourplane for entries, the airline is asking voters to tweet a suggested name for the aircraft, along with their reason for choosing it. Of course, this needs to be done in 140 characters or less. Additionally, if you happen to spot the contest’s signature hashtag-adorned plane (shown right), you should attach a photo to your tweet for “special consideration.”

According to The Age, entries will be judged by a panel that includes Thomson managing director Chris Browne, and the airline’s head of training and 787 test pilot, Captain Stuart Gruber.

“The arrival of the 787 Dreamliner will be an exciting time for Thomson Airways and our customers,” said Miss Browne. “It was only fitting to name one of these revolutionary aircraft in an equally innovative way.”

And the best part? The winner will also receive a free flight on-board their personally-named aircraft.

Click here to go to Thomson Airways’ Twitter page for updates.

Tickets Now On Sale For The Luxurious Boeing 787 Dreamliner

For those who haven’t heard about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, it’s a luxurious aircraft with space for 219 passengers, large windows with an adjustable tint, spacious storage compartments, lower cabin altitude, higher humidity levels, a quieter and less-turbulent cabin, faster flying, tech enhancements and 20 percent less fuel usage than normal airplanes.

Do you want to try this innovative airplane out for yourself? Tickets for U.S. passengers to ride the new aircraft have just gone on sale, as United Airlines announced a daily, nonstop Denver-to-Tokyo route. Passengers can book now for travel beginning March 31, 2013.

“I want to recognize the efforts of Mayor Hancock, Kim Day, Manager of Aviation, and her team at Denver International Airport, and the business and civic leaders in Denver who have worked together to bring this great new international destination to our customers in Denver,” said Jeff Smisek, United’s President and CEO. “Our customers will enjoy the direct, nonstop service on our new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft, which will provide a spectacular flying experience.” For a visual idea of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, check out the video above.

Japanese Airlines First to Install Bidets in the Air

Japan’s All Nippon Airways have announced they will be installing bidets in the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, set to be delivered in May of 2008. This is a first for any commercial airline. (Vladimir Putin had a bidet in his private jet, however.)

With over 60 percent of Japanese households sporting a bidet, this makes sense. But I can’t help but wonder just how much larger the lavatory will have to be to accommodate this. Will the bidet be built into the toilet, or will it be separate? Or will it be a hand-held spray bidet that are common across Asia? The bidet-toilet combo makes the most sense due to the constricted space, but the Dreamliner is a big plane, so who knows?

Someone is going to have to teach me how to use one of those things.