787 Dreamliner Engine Failure Causes Outsized Panic By News Media

Recently, a Thomson Airways 787 traveling from the Dominican Republic to Manchester, UK was forced to make an emergency landing in the Azores because of a low oil pressure warning on one of its two engines.

That fact, in and of itself isn’t terribly newsworthy.  Planes have emergency landings all the time.  If you Google “List of Emergency Landings in August 2014” will bring up a partial list along with a link to an airline industry news site that lists dozens, including more plane fires than I would have guessed.

Don’t get me wrong.  An engine failure can be dramatic, especially if you’re flying on a plane that only has two.  But, the headlines and some of the bullet points caught my attention as a bit salacious.

New York Post article:

Dreamliner Engine Failure

Daily Mail article:

Dreamliner Engine Failure

Georgia Newsday article:

Dreamliner Engine Failure

It’s not that there haven’t been plenty of bumps and bruises with the 787.  It’s been grounded amongst a number of issues with batteries overheating, but engines really haven’t been a huge focus.

It’s only a bit misleading to say the engine stopped mid-air.  The pilot shut it down, but likely did so because the lack of oil pressure could/would have lead to engine failure and more potential damage.

“Plummeting at 500 ft-a-minute” strikes me as a bit of an irresponsible way to characterize the situation.  I’m fine with a passenger saying it, but a newspaper phrasing it that way doesn’t really take into account that most “normal” descents (which are going to vary greatly) are considerably faster than 500 feet a minute.

I’m sure it was a scary ordeal for some of the passengers onboard, especially if they’ve never been part of an emergency landing.  I’ve been lucky unlucky enough to go through a couple myself so I’m probably a bit more prepared than the average bear.

And, I’m glad everyone made it home safely.  I just shook my head a bit when I saw the headlines and read the article.  I still strongly believe that the 787 Dreamliner is a safe plane.  I wouldn’t be booking away from it, I prefer flying it.  The comfort of the humidity and lower pressurization make a difference for me when I travel.

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  1. To put it into context, though, this is the NY Post and Daily Mail we’re talking about – no better than the National Enquirer or any other dirt rag.

  2. We’re surprised that the media hype minor mishaps to boost readership? It’s par for the course these days, especially, as gobluetwo points out, for the Mail and the NY Post.

    Each of my TPAC flights on the Dreamliner has been a wonderful experience. I’d choose it every time if I could.

    1. Surprised, Dave? Not really. More disappointed than normal? Yeah. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all my Dreamliner flights.

    2. Exactly. Every story is hyped, good or bad. And you can always find an idiot willing to make outrageous comments, especially if it might mean a law$uit is coming.

  3. Why does Thomson Airways have a 787, but UA and AA and Delta barely have any??? I want a 787 on my normal routes 🙁

    1. David, AA was VERY late to commit to the 787. UA is starting to get a reasonable number of them, but I highly doubt they’ll fly it on most of your routes. While you do have some “long, thin” routes, there aren’t many.

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