By Keith Laing
Boeing executives are reportedly unhappy with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision to ground its 787 “Dreamliner” airplane.
The Seattle Times is reporting that leaders of the Washington state-based airplane manufacturing company think the FAA took 787s out of flight too quickly, despite a rash of problems that preceded the agency’s announcement.
A spokesman for Boeing denied the report to The Hill, saying Thursday morning that the company was focused on fixing the problems that have led to the 787 being grounded last week.
"We are working closely with regulators and investigators in a positive way and at the moment we have hundreds of experts from across Boeing working around the clock to resolve issues on the 787," Boeing spokesman Sean McCormack said. "We think all would agree that should be our focus."
At issue is an FAA order that U.S. airlines stop flying 787s after a pair of the lithium batteries that are used to help power the large airplane nearly sparked electrical fires. Other international aviation associations quickly followed suit, leading to a worldwide grounding of Boeing’s vaunted new plane.
The company has publicly maintained that the 787 is safe to fly, in addition to pledging to work with federal investigators.
"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement after the FAA announced its decision to ground the planes.
“Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible,” McNerney continued. “The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of the Boeing Co. to assist.”
TheTimes reported that company officials are privately expressing a much different opinion about the FAA’s decision.
"At no stage have they appeared to be open to admitting the seriousness of what's happened," the former Boeing executive quoted by the paper said. "They are basically still in denial."
Critics of the FAA’s decision to ground the 787 have argued that the problems that have been experienced during the Dreamliner’s roll-out are typical during the introduction of new airplane models.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defended the agency’s intervention in a speech to aviation industry officials this week, however.
"Our job at DOT is to ensure the safety of the flying public, and that's what we're doing," LaHood told the Washington Aero Club on Wednesday.
"We need to get to the bottom of the recent issues with the batteries in the 787 and ensure their safety before these aircraft can be put back in service," LaHood continued. "Our goal is to get this done as quickly as possible, but we must be confident that the problems are corrected before we can move forward."