Boeing 787 Dreamliner loses fuselage panel in flight

ANA to choose between Airbus and Boeing

iNVEZZ.com, Wednesday October 16th: Boeing (NYSE:BA) today said that a fuselage panel fell off of a 787 Dreamliner, while the plane was in the air. The accident happened on an Air India flight on Saturday and adds to the string of mishaps for Boeing’s flagship jet.

The Times of India has reported that the pilots flying the jet from Delhi to Bangalore didn’t realise that the eight-by-four-foot panel was gone until after the flight landed. The “gaping hole in the belly” was discovered only when the airplane was being prepared for its next flight, the newspaper said.

"It was the mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the airplane on the right side," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder explained in a statement. The part "provides a more aerodynamic surface in flight." Boeing assured that it was working on identifying the root cause of the problem while the missing panel was replaced with one taken from a just-delivered 787 Dreamliner that was not yet ready for service.

Problems that have plagued the Dreamliner jets include overheating of the lithium-ion batteries that led to a three-month long grounding of the entire 787 fleet earlier this year (Japan Airlines Retains Optimistic Outlook Despite Dreamliner Fleet Grounding ). The malfunctions have failed to scare investors with Boeing’s stock trading near record levels on Tuesday at around $118.

ANA to choose between Airbus and Boeing

Boeing suffered a major blow last week after Japan Airlines decided to purchase long-haul jets from its European rival Airbus (Airbus invades Boeing’s territory with first Japan Air order).

Japanese air carrier ANA Holdings is expected to decide from which major manufacturer to order its next-generation fleet by the beginning of next year. Reuters quoted analysts as saying that the chances had increased that ANA would buy some 30 A350s, Airbus’ first mostly carbon-composite jetliner, in preference to Boeing’s 777x.

Boeing dominates the Japanese market partially due to the close US-Japan diplomatic and security alliance and also because it carries out a large portion of the production of its planes in the Asian country. A Boeing spokesman has said that the company spent $4 billion (₤2.5 billion) on goods and services in Japan last year, translating into some 22,000 jobs or almost half of the country’s aerospace workforce.

Analysts on Boeing

Canaccord Genuity, a global full-service investment bank, last week initiated coverage on Boeing’s shares. In a note sent to investors on Thursday, analyst Ken Herbert rated the stock with a ‘buy’ rating and gave it a price target of $140.

“We believe BA will continue to benefit from strong industry fundamentals and should see further upside to current production levels. Improving cash flows and cash deployment are the key drivers for the stock,” Herbert said.

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