Excitement builds for Boeing 787 despite FAA review

January 11, 2013 7:40:00 PM PST
San Jose's Mineta International Airport is pinning its hopes on the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" you've been hearing so much about.

All Nippon Airways flew one of the big planes in to San Jose on Friday, just hours after the government launched a review of the plane's design and assembly. That's because of a fire and fuel leak earlier this week.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said he's confident the 787 is safe to fly, as did the people who boarded the Dreamliner on Friday in San Jose.

Dreamliner's arrival in San Jose has been years in the making. The five day a week non-stop flight linking Silicon Valley to Tokyo got a water salute welcome.

"This is not only an exciting day for the Valley but truly an exciting day for our international partners," said Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

The launch party for All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 included a traditional ribbon cutting and unique sake barrel breaking.

But amid the celebration there are questions about the aircraft's safety. Norm Mineta is not only the former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, but San Jose's international airport bears his name, "The seriousness or the depth of these issues is not one that warrants the grounding of the airplanes," Mineta said.

Dreamliner has experienced three high profile problems just this week, including a fire and fuel leak.

"It is not uncommon on new deliveries and new aircraft to have to work the little bugs out, but the bugs are small bugs and not huge," said San Jose Aviation Director Bill Sherry.

ANA provided us with video of the aircraft's interior showing off its roomy luxury and big windows. Passengers are thrilled they no longer have to travel to San Francisco for a Tokyo flight.

"This is the first day so I booked immediately when I heard this news," passenger Ai Kudo said.

San Mateo resident Yoshia Nomura added, "I really want to have this, right from San Jose because it's convenient. When I go to San Francisco it's really crowded, a lot of people. It's such a hassle."

Any concern about safety is not dampening the enthusiasm for Dreamliner's inaugural flight from San Jose, "The process will deal with those problems and I'm confident enough to board this plane today," Mineta said.

ANA is hoping demand for this nonstop San Jose to Toyko connection results in daily service by summer.

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