Published on Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Travel agents admit they're afraid to fly on Dreamliner

Almost one in 10 travel agents say they wouldn't be happy to fly on the world's newest aircraft which was supposed to revolutionise air travel, providing customers with a more comfortable flight and eliminating jet lag.

The new Boeing 787, known as the Dreamliner, has been grounded for three weeks following a series of technical glitches, the most serious of which were two fires, the cause of which have yet to be identified.

Thomson is due to take delivery of the first of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners it has ordered later this month, but when TravelMole asked agents if they would be happy to fly on the aircraft almost 10% said 'no'.

Just over 90% of agents said they WOULD still be happy to travel on the 787,  but if almost 10% have no confidence in the aircraft it could lead to agents switching passengers to other carriers.

Thomson, the first UK airline to order the aircraft, is planning to put it into service on flights to Mexico and Florida from May 1 after carrying out several training flights to Europe over the spring.

British Airways has ordered 24 787s, the first of which was due for delivery in May.

However, Boeing has ceased deliveries of all new 787s until a fault that caused fires on two aircraft has been identified and remedied. No-one was injured in the fires, which were confined to the aircraft electrical base, but the fault prompted the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the US to order all 787s already in service to be grounded.

Boeing has since requested the FAA's permission to resume flight testing of the 787 to further investigate a battery problem that is believed to be the source of the fires. Investigators have found evidence of a short circuit in a battery cell.

The manufacturer is continuing production of the new aircraft, but it has not told airlines when to expect them.

A spokesperson for Thomson said:  "Thomson Airways is still working towards flying our first commercial Dreamliner on the 1 May 2013.  We understand Boeing is doing everything possible to assist the FAA in its investigation and to get the aircraft back into service as soon as possible."


By Linsey McNeill


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  • Sorry if I wasn't clear...

    ...Lyndsey. But my comparison was with the effect of the headlines, not the methodology used to create them. The MMR scare was caused by scare headlines based on faulty research and, although the research finding were quickly discovered to be faulty the headlines carried on scaring parents for months or maybe even years.

    By Richard English, Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • 1st of May delivery?

    Could the light at the end of T.Cooks financial tunnel be Thomson's dreamliner coming the other way? 1st of May is not looking good if what I read in the press is true!

    By Paul Davis, Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • It was a survey, not scientific research

    Richard, to compare this to the scare surrounding the MMR vaccine is ridiculous. That scare was caused by flawed scientific research, not by a random survey. Results of a research programme should give facts, results of a survey give opinions. It is the opinion of some agents that the 787 is not safe. It is not a fact. I am sure our readers know the difference.

    By Linsey McNeill, Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Forewarned is forearmed....

    Richard, I'm sure the powers that be at Thomson will welcome the feedback, after all, if agents had been nervous about selling any of your product back in the day (the 'Flying Pig' springs to mind, though this was probably before your time!) I'm sure you would have wanted to know about it. In the meantime, let's not dismiss agents' fears so swiftly - after all, remember the 787 was considered airworthy BEFORE the safety concerns came to light. No-one is in any doubt that these problems will be rectified before Thomson takes delivery of its aircraft - that was made clear in the article - but the reality and the perception are two different things.

    By Linsey McNeill, Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • It means very little...

    ...if the sample size of a survey is not large enough to be significant.. Asking ten travel consultants in the high street agency nearest to the surveyor's office, and finding that one out of that number would be reluctant to fly on the 787, would give a mathematically correct result. But it would not be statistically significant. Unofrtunately, surveys - no matter how flawed - are almost guaranteed to generate good headlines. Whether they generate accurate news stories is another matter entirely. It reminds me on the MMR vaccine story of a few years ago, when a flawed survey generated major news headlines which caused quite unnecessary panic amongst parents and probably caused actual physical harrm (or even death) to some infants whose parents were persuaded by the headlines not to have their children vaccinated. I am sure that, before the 787 re-enters service, it will be thoroughly sorted out.

    By Richard English, Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Nonsense

    This is a nonsense headline with no substance that does Travelmole's integrity as a reliable source of good quality journalism no favours at all. It is based on spurious, so called survey results (no sample size mentioned), designed entirely to generate a sensationalist headline. Boeing will sort out the problems, the aircraft is a major breakthrough and engineering achievement and Tui won't be allowed to use it unless fully certificated as airworthy. Whether it will be available on time is another matter entirely.

    By Richard Carrick, Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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