Will a New Boeing 787 Monitoring System Put Flyers at Ease?

Boeing 787 Jet on Fire

Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) has had a year it would love to forget — between troubled jets and flight problems, things didn’t look good.

In January, the entire 787 fleet was grounded until April due to battery problems; in early July, a 777 being used by Asiana Airlines crash-landed at a San Francisco airport; then, there was a botched landing of a smaller Southwest (NYSE:LUV) 737 jet; and finally, there was the emergency beacon problem that resulted in a fire on an Ethiopian Airlines-operated 787 at London’s Heathrow Airport.

But according to Boeing, the 787 Dreamliners, which are now back in service, are safer than they ever have been. Why would the company make that claim? Because Boeing is monitoring all its 787 Dreamliners around the clock, using sophisticated systems that can track the conditions of many components on the jets. However, these systems had already been on the Dreamliners, and didn’t prevent the past problems, which may be a point of contention.

NPR was given a tour of the new 787 Operations Control Center in Everett, Washington, where Boeing Vice President Mike Fleming showed off the company’s new monitoring systems. Having delivered about 70 Dreamliners so far, the planes now sport equipment that sends massive amounts of data back to the station while the Dreamliner is in the air. Computer software takes the data and runs them through a complex system so the airline can be warned of any potential problems.