Maybe Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Silicon Valley-to-Tokyo was never meant to be

Maybe a San Jose-to-Tokyo flight was never meant to be. I’m just saying.

The latest international boondoggle out of Silicon Valley sounds a lot like the aviation embarrassment San Jose suffered at the end of the last century. Remember?

Then the much-heralded non-stop San Jose-to-Tokyo service, actually flew from San Jose, up Interstate 880 to Oakland, and then on to Tokyo.  I wrote about that here.

Now the latest: After a sake-soaked celebration to see off Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner on its maiden flight from Mineta San Jose (now really) International Airport to Narita International Airport in Tokyo, All Nippon Airlines and Japan Airlines said hold everything.

It seems the planes, which offer the latest in creature comforts, can do everything but fly. OK, I exaggerate, but after the new planes started leaking and things started catching on fire on the sleek 787s, both Japanese airlines grounded all Dreamliner flights.

Talk about crashing the party. OK, poor choice of words.

Next came the FAA grounding all U.S.-operated Dreamliner flights in the U.S. Best quote?

“Their preliminary investigation found something they deemed to be an unacceptable level of risk to flight safety for that aircraft,” Robert Fiegl, chairman of the aeronautical sciences department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, told the Merc’s John Boudreau. “Fire is a big deal.”

Uh, yeah.

Backers of the new Silicon Valley-to-Japan flight say they’re not all that alarmed. That even goes for some of those who flew to Japan last week on the Dreamliner. (Some had to find other planes to bring them home.)

“These things happen on new planes,” travel agency president Marc Castro told Boudreau. “I am much happier to have a canceled flight than a crashed flight.”

Let’s just say All Nippon is not looking to Castro for help with their new slogan.

But seriously, aviation experts are a tad blase about the incendiary Dreamliners. They say problems are to be expected with new aircraft models. They even have a term for it, as Boudreau has pointed out: “teething problems.”

Cute. But with these Dreamliners, sometimes it seems like all their teeth are falling out.

(Photo by the Associated Press)

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.