Air NZ insulated from Dreamliner woes – analyst

UPDATE: Air New Zealand is protected from recent problems with Boeing's new Dreamliner plane, an aviation analyst says. 

The airline's 787 fleet has been grounded in the US while the planes are checked for problems. 

Forsyth Barr analyst Rob Mercer says Air New Zealand – which is scheduled to receive its first Dreamliner aircraft next year – should not be affected.

The airline had deliberately chosen to delay receipt of its first 787 Dreamliner in order to take Series 9 planes, whereas the grounded aircraft are Series 8 and problems would be ironed out before the Series 9 was released.

"That was the choice they made," he says. "These things are good headlines at the moment, but they're not a reason for someone to be nervous about Air New Zealand."

In other developments, Qatar Airways said it was grounding its five 787s until further notice following instructions by both the US Federal Aviation Administration and Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority.

“Qatar Airways will resume 787 operations when we are clear that the aircraft meets the full requirements of the Airworthiness Directive and our standards which assure the safety of our passengers and crew at all times. So we are not flying the aircraft until and only such a time this is achieved," chief executive Akbar Al Baker said.

EARLIER: Troubles are mounting for Boeing’s new generation 787 Dreamliner aircraft with US aviation regulators ordering the immediate temporary halt of all flights.

This follows yesterday’s grounding by Japan’s two main airlines, which operate half of the 50 Dreamliners in service around the world.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it requires a "corrective action plan" before flights can resume – and hasn't released a timetable for when that might happen.

The agency says it work with Boeing and airlines to develop a plan to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the US, it has meant the suspension of United’s six 787s. Other US airlines have not received any Dreamliners.

The Japanese grounding by ANA and Japan Airlines was prompted an emergency landing at Takamatsu, in southern Japan, after pilots reacted to alarms indicating smoke coming from the main battery that power’s the aircraft’s electronics.

The follows other problems also related to the batteries and electrical troubles, as well as cracked windows and faulty brakes.

US air-safety regulators launched a comprehensive review of the 787 programme last week and said they were also dispatching an investigator to Japan.

Jim McNerney, the Boeing chairman, president and CEO, says: “Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible.

“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 Company to assist.

“We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787s safety and to return the airplanes to service.

“Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers.”

Other airlines are continuing to operate their 787s. LOT Polish Airlines said its inaugural 787 flight from Warsaw to Chicago took off as planned. It has two 787s. State-run Air India said its six Dreamliners were operating normally.

Qatar Airways has five on services from Doha to airports in Europe and, from next month, Perth. Other airlines with 787s are Ethiopian Airlines (4) and LAN Chile (3).

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18 Comments & Questions

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Why are we persisting with this aircraft.
Why don't we go for the larger AB 350 Airbus with 350 passenger capacity and no serious delays in manufacturing?


Ridiculous comment by the "analyst".

Air NZ is financially bleeding on international routes. In part, this is due to tired old aircraft that provide a poor customer experience. Air NZ aircraft are tired because execs made a poor choice when ordering Dreamliners, with the resulting delay in delivery by several years.

Air NZ is clearly following the old saying "how do you build a nice little airline? Start with a large airline..."

Unlikely that a local "analyst" would notice that, though.


Remind me how old the brand-new 777s, brand-new Dash 8s, Beech 1900, Airbus 320s, brand-new ATRs for Mt Cook on order, and the new international product lie-flat business class, premium economy seating while winning international awards are. And how this is providing poor customer experience. Become informed!


I usually fly 30-40 international flights a year, some on Air NZ, others mostly on larger top-rated international airlines. I have flown on just about every type of commercial airliner available in that time period, including a few not made by Boeing or Airbus. I have done this for the last 15 years or so.

That makes me a reasonably informed customer when it comes to customer fit-out.

I stand by my comment. For the most part, Air NZ planes are tired and do not offer the range of features that other airlines' aircraft do.


Any more serious glitches and this 787 is going to have "Nightmareliner" conferred upon it. Or be the feature offering on any Thanksgiving plate.


Sounds like the DC10 all over again - looked like a great idea and good design but was just a problem child the whole time.

I don't think I will be rushing to get on a Dreamliner. The problems we are seeing are small. It will be interesting to see what they are like after 1000 takeoffs and landings. I'll be watching from the ground.


Flytothemoon, you need to look at the bigger picture. The Dreamliner uses 20-25% less fuel than current long-haul aircraft. This plane is a game changer and will be essential to Air NZ making a profit on long-haul flights.


Yep, you are correct.

But a good chance that AIr NZ long-haul flights will be dead and buried long before the Dreamliner can help. Especially if Air NZ faces competitive pressure on the Tasman and Pacific and can no longer cross-subsidise the long-haul routes.

Already, excluding Australia and the Islands, how many long-haul routes does Air NZ have - maybe 10? And of those, how many are bleeding? I'd guess all but where Air NZ has a monopoly (LAX, SFO). AIr NZ simply is not in a position to compete with the big boys, for a variety of reasons.

So the big picture really is, why buy what could be a terrific long-haul plane if you only have a couple of places to fly it?

Another story on fuel efficiency is that planes use most of their fuel on airport taxi runs. Airports that can find a way to efficiently tow planes from the runway to and from gates will save airlines a bundle in fuel. Unfortunately, not much chance of that happening, as most airports are monopolies that do not consider innovation part of their business model.


I'm assuming this comment is some kind of joke?! Using most of their fuel on taxi runs. Just sit back and think about that for a moment...


Love Air New Zealand!


No way will you catch me 5000km out to sea over the Pacific Ocean bouncing through the jetstream in a plastic plane loaded with lithium-ion batteries and 100 tons of J1 aviation fuel. Think the may have pushed the boat out too far with this one.


The 787 is made of mainly of composite materials which are stronger and more durable than traditional materials such as aluminium. You heard of fatigue cracking and corrosion? The 777 uses composite materials in its structure and has been flying for over 10 years without requiring the main composite structural components to be replaced.


Maybe, but have you considered the flammability of aluminium versus fiber-composite?

That's why they are freaking out about these Li-Ion battery fires. If the fuselage catches fire it becomes a catastrophic situation quickly. Ask any pilot from WWII who flew the old wood 'n paper versus the new aluminiums ... nothing old is new.

I am an aerospace engineer and these planes are basically plastic. They made the call and now have to go with it.


I would be more alarmed flying on board a plane you have worked on. Your knowledge seems very limited when it comes to composite materials and modern aircraft. Please note the following before you comment any further.
Among findings in testing using FAA-approved methodologies were:
• The composite materials used for the 787 do not propagate an in-flight fire.
• The fuselage skin is an excellent fire barrier, and resists flame penetration far longer than an aluminum fuselage.
• The toxic gas levels produced in a post-crash fire scenario are similar for both a composite fuselage and an aluminum fuselage.
• There was no prolonged burning or re-ignition of the composite skin after tests were completed.


While we are quoting FAA methodologies ... FAA set Special Certification Conditions for use of lithium ion batteries on the 787 the inherent dangers were clearly known and spelled out at

The incidents that led to the grounding clearly show that some of those conditions were not met. Namely:
(1) Safe cell temperatures and pressures must be maintained during any foreseeable charging or discharging condition and during any failure of the charging or battery monitoring system not shown to be
extremely remote. The lithium ion battery installation must preclude explosion in the event of those failures.
(2) Design of the lithium ion batteries must preclude the occurrence of self-sustaining, uncontrolled increases in temperature or pressure.
(3) No explosive or toxic gases emitted by any lithium ion battery in normal operation, or as the result of any failure of the battery charging system, monitoring system, or battery installation not shown to be extremely remote, may accumulate in hazardous quantities within the airplane.
(4) .....
(5) No corrosive fluids or gases that may escape from any lithium ion battery may damage surrounding structure or any adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring of the airplane in such a way as to
cause a major or more severe failure condition, in accordance with 14 CFR 25.1309(b) and applicable regulatory guidance.
(6) Each lithium ion battery installation must have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on structure or essential systems caused by the maximum amount of heat the battery can generate during a short circuit of the battery or of its individual cells.
(7) Lithium ion battery installations must have a system to control the charging rate of the battery automatically, so as to prevent battery overheating or overcharging, and,
(i) A battery temperature sensing and over-temperature warning system with a means for automatically disconnecting the battery from
its charging source in the event of an over-temperature condition, or,
(ii) A battery failure sensing and warning system with a means for automatically disconnecting the battery from its charging source in the event of battery failure.


You have to wonder about the knowledge of a "analyst" who writes such rubbish.

At present the 787 only has ETOPS180. Air NZ's 773s and 772s now have ETOPS330 certification. One of the key drivers behind opting for the 787 was that it would support ETOPS330, opening up new routes for a twin jet that would have previously had to be serviced by a 744.

With ETOPS330 certification for the 787 now essentially on hold there is no guarantee the -9 will have ETOPS330 at launch, meaning Air NZ will be stuck with an aircraft that won't be able to fly routes where it could have been a game changer for Air NZ - such as to Johannesburg, South America, and further into North America.

There must be some worried people inside Air NZ at present, wondering whether they should be looking at more 773s.


Interesting range of comments. I am not an Air NZ employee, but I have flown three long-haul return trips to the US and UK on Air NZ 777-300 in recent months traveling prem economy.
It is my observation that each flight was full or near full. Certainly in prem business and prem economy there were no spare seats.
If these flights are typical loadings then at least on Akl/Lax/Ldn it is hard to imagine Air NZ is operating this route at a loss.


Anonymous does not understand the New Zealand rules on EDTO (formerly ETOPS). Even if an aircraft has 330-min. in its country of manufacture, the New Zealand rules require it to fly a certain period of EDTO 180min and a further period of 240-min. It takes at least 3-years from EIS to be eligible for EDTO 330-min . Right now the 77W is at EDTO 240-min. Until the FAA in the US certify RR powered 77E's beyond 180-min the NZ 77E's are not able to fly beyond 180-min.EDTO


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