Norwegian Pulls 787 From Long-Haul Service

 - September 30, 2013, 12:31 PM
One of two Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 787s now sits idle in Stockholm while Boeing engineers address the series of technical problems that resulted in its grounding.

Norwegian Air Shuttle removed from long-haul service one of its two Boeing 787s over the weekend following a series of technical problems, the latest involving a hydraulic pump. Following the incident in Thailand, Norwegian flew the airplane from Bangkok back to its base in Stockholm, where a team of Boeing engineers has begun to work on it. A Norwegian spokesman would offer no time estimate for a return to service.

“We are taking one 787 out of long-haul service as we’re not satisfied with the way it has been performing, causing way too many delays for our passengers,” said the spokesman.

“It will not re-enter long-haul service until we’re satisfied.” He also said the airline hasn’t yet determined whether or not it will continue to fly the airplane on short- or medium-stage-length routes.

Norwegian plans to lease an Airbus A340 to replace the Dreamliner on service from Stockholm to Bangkok and New York. It has taken delivery of two of a firm order for eight and plans to accept its third in late November.

For its part, Boeing estimated the airplane would return to service “in a matter of days” after it applies a number of “enhancements” to improve the airplane’s in-service reliability. One of those involves the airplane’s power panels, some improvements to which Boeing has already introduced, according to the manufacturer, and more of which it plans to implement “in the weeks ahead.”

“Boeing is working with its suppliers and its customers to implement several improvements to hardware and software,” said the company in a statement. “The combined result of these improvements is expected to significantly improve dispatch reliability. We are addressing several components that have not had the reliability we expected, with a particular focus on those that have had the most significant impact on operations.”

Norwegian has contracted with Boeing to provide engineering, spare parts and maintenance services for its 787s. Boeing supports the Norwegian 787 fleet with a combination of Boeing personnel in Europe and a local MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) service provider chosen by Norwegian. The MRO provider works with Boeing’s regional service center in Europe along with the 787 Operational Control Center and the engineering team in the Seattle area.

“Boeing employees are embedded with Norwegian and working to address issues as they arise and to review data from airplane systems and the overall 787 fleet to proactively support Norwegian’s fleet,” added Boeing.

The company has also started increasing the number of parts it stocks at all the airports where Norwegian flies its 787s, in Oslo, Stockholm, New York JFK and Bangkok. Finally, the OEM said it has begun adding Boeing engineers and maintenance personnel at the same four airports to immediately respond to any “issues.”