It was an effort to support the Japanese companies that helped build the plane, and speed up the process of getting Japan's 787s into the skies

The Japanese government reportedly relaxed safety regulations for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner back in 2008 in an effort to speed up the aircraft's deployment within the country.

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau revised 40 safety guidelines back in 2008, where at least four of them were directly associated with the 787 Dreamliner. Some of the changes include clearing pilots of the Boeing 777 to fly the 787 Dreamliner as well and eliminating the 787 from detailed ground crew inspections between flights.

Also, the modified regulations didn't address the potential for battery fires in the 787 Dreamliner, which has been an issue over the past few weeks.

The reason for the looser safety regulations was to put Japan in line with other countries also receiving the 787, like the United States. Also, Japanese airlines like All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) were pushing for lower operating costs as well as increased support for getting the 787 into the air, since 35 percent of the jet's materials are supplied by Japanese firms. Had the regulations not been eased, it could have taken the 787 a lot longer to hit the skies in Japan.

"I believe the request for the changes came initially from the airlines. Ultimately, it was a discussion of measures to lower operating costs for the airlines," said Masatoshi Harigae, head of aviation at Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, one of the outside advisers who urged the eased regulatory standards.

It's important to note that there is no evidence for the loose regulations contributing to the recent 787 Dreamliner issues. The Civil Aviation Bureau in Japan made some of the regulation modifications, such as the clearing of Boeing 777 pilots, because the two aircrafts have a similar design and it thought there wouldn't be any issues.

Also, despite the eliminated ground crew inspections for the 787 in Japanese safety regulations, ANA said it checks domestic 777 and 787 flights anyway. JAL checks between international 787 flights because it's required to do so.

Boeing uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for its main electrical system.

The 787 Dreamliner's problem started earlier this month, when a 787 operated by Japan Airlines had experienced an electrical fire at Boston's Logan International Airport after coming in from Tokyo. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a battery in the auxiliary power unit suffered severe fire damage.

Just one day later, a Boeing 787 operated by the same airline at the same airport suffered a fuel leak. The fuel leak was discovered at 12:25 p.m. ET right after the 787 left the gate for a trip to Tokyo. The flight was cancelled, and the plane was towed back to the gate where passengers were instructed to exit and stay in the airport. No one was injured. However, about 40 gallons of fuel had leaked from the 787. The plane ended up being delayed four hours before leaving for Tokyo.

A week later, two more issues occurred.
It was discovered that a 787 Dreamliner with All Nippon Airways (ANA), which had arrived at the Matsuyama airport in western Japan from Tokyo on Friday, developed a web-like crack in the cockpit window. The pilot found it about 70 minutes into the flight, but no one was injured. In a separate incident on Friday, but also with ANA, another 787 Dreamliner had an oil leak after traveling to the Miyazaki airport in southern Japan.

That wasn't the end of the 787's problems for the month, though.
A 787, which was an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight to Tokyo, had an issue with its main battery only 15 minutes into a 90-minute flight. After 40 minutes, a burning smell made its way into the cabin and cockpit, and the plane made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport on the southern island of Shikoku. This issue caused all 787s to be grounded in Japan, the U.S. and India until a safety investigation was conducted and the problems were corrected.

Source: Reuters

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