Three of the rule changes dealt with abbreviated testing and approval of pilots who had been cleared to fly the Boeing 777 and were preparing to switch to the 787. “It (787) is highly innovative and its safety is also advanced, but it’s also very similar in design to the 777,” said Kinya Fujiishi, an aviation journalist who sat on the panel. “This is why we thought it would be fine to revise the rule.”
Another approved rule change exempted Boeing’s new jet from the need for detailed inspections by ground crew after each landing that would have meant higher costs - and longer delays - for the airlines with each flight. Participants said the panel concluded such checks were not needed because of the Dreamliner’s sophisticated on-board diagnostic system.
JAL said it still performs checks between 787 flights because it is still required to do so after international routes. ANA said it checks domestic 777 and 787 flights although rules no longer mandate them to perform these.
At the same time, the revised rules opened up potentially lucrative trans-Pacific detinations to ANA and JAL with the Dreamliner sooner than previous standards would have allowed. Changes shortened the time needed to win approval - known as Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) - to fly two-engined jets on routes distant from emergency airfields.
But production and design snags meant ANA, even so, had to wait until 2011 for its first Dreamliner.
In 2009, a bilateral agreement between Japan and the United States provided further support for the Dreamliner to enter service in Asia. That pact allowed aviation officials in Tokyo to certify the airworthiness of the U.S.-built jets based on testing mostly approved by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
In 2007, the FAA cleared Boeing’s use of a potentially flammable battery in the Dreamliner because Boeing’s design was expected to contain any potential fire and divert smoke and fumes away from the passenger cabin.
Japan’s support for the Dreamliner reflects how closely integrated the nation’s aerospace industry has become in Boeing’s supply chain, experts say. “If the 787 prevails all over the world it’s good for Japanese industry, so the government wants to support it,” said Hajime Tozaki, an aviation policy specialist and professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University, who was not part of the 2008 review.