787 Grounded: Air Canada Silent On Fate Of Dreamliner Purchase

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787 GROUNDED
A Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' of the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) is parked at the airport in Frankfurt , Germany Thursday Jan. 17, 2013. Europe's air safety authority has followed the United States in ordering the grounding and safety review of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner following a series of incidents with the aircraft in recent days. ( AP Photo/ Arne Dedert) | AP

They're called "Dreamliners," but after the week Boeing's 787 jets have had, the word "dream" almost seems like a reach.

Oil leaks, cracked windshields and leaking batteries culminated in the grounding of Boeing's highly-touted jet by two Japanese airlines — Air Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines — on Wednesday. Shortly after, the Federal Aviation Agency, the watchdog in charge of airline safety in the United States, grounded all 787s operated by United Airlines, the only carrier in the U.S flying Dreamliners. It wasn't long before other agencies and airlines, like the European Aviation Safety Agency, followed suit.

In Canada, Transport Canada, the government body responsible for airline safety, has yet to make a statement in response to the groundings around the world, as there are no 787s operated by Canadian airlines. The agency is currently in the process of "conducting a validation of the U.S. FAA's Type Certificate" on the 787, Transport Canada told HuffPost Canada Travel. Type Certificates are given to manufacturers — like Boeing — if a plane's design meets the agency's safety standards. However, Transport Canada says their review into the FAA safety standards is still an ongoing progress.

Currently, Air Canada is the only Canadian carrier that plans to integrate Boeings 787 into its fleets. The airline ordered 37 of Boeing's Dreamliners back in 2005 with plans to replace the current 767s and A319s. Air Canada is staying silent on the troubles surrounding the Dreamliners.

"We are aware of the reports about the 787, but we are declining to comment as our deliveries do not begin to 2014," said Peter Fitzpatrick, a rep with Air Canada in an e-mail. Calls to Boeing have yet to be returned, though according to the Montreal Gazette, the groundings have not affected Air Canada's delivery.

Boeing's 787's Long Road To Delivery, Slideshow Continues Below

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Boeing spokesperson Tim Bader told the paper the latest incident "changes nothing to the production or delivery schedules," adding the company is aware of the incident in Japan and working with airlines and investigators. The 787s represent an important pillar for Air Canada to grow in terms of its service. According to Boeing's website, 787s can carry up to 250 passengers and are lighter and more fuel efficient than previous models, like the 767s Air Canada currently uses.

Some analysts, like David Tyerman of Canaccord Genuity, say Canadians have little to worry about, as it will be months before Boeing's Dreamliners arrive in Canada.

"If we have this conversation in six months from now then I'd start to get concerned, so there's lots of time to deal with the teething pains," he said in an interview with the CBC.

Ramy Elitzur, a professor in Financial Analysis at the University of Toronto, studies the airline industry. He told HuffPost Canada Travel the current problems are symptoms and don't speak to the underlying issue. Elitzur adds that unless the problems are permanent — what he refers to as structural or design issues that can't be fixed — then it's serious. Otherwise, these are "minor mishaps."

"[Air Canada is] not going to reverse their decision. Airplanes are big purchases and they'd rather get what they ordered then cancel. It's like if you buy a car and there's still a problem with the mirror. You'd probably still want the car instead of cancelling the entire order."

So far, those who have flown on Dreamliners or worked on the plane still swear by the structure, reports the Associated Press.

"I'm as excited today to get on a 787 as I was a year ago," says Edward Pizzarello, a travel blogger who has logged four flights on the 787. "Boeing will fix this, and I'll be flying on this plane for many years."

With files from the Canadian Press

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