Boeing 787: New Dreamliner has growing pains

Boeing is having a bad week -- a fire and a fuel leak make problems for new 787 Dreamliner
CBS News

(CBS News) Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner was delayed for years because of production trouble.

Now, the company is having new problems -- two incidents in two days -- both at Boston's Logan Airport.

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First, a fire burned in the belly of a 787, minutes after the passengers had left the plane.

Then, the very next day, as a Dreamliner taxied to the runway, approximately 40 gallons of fuel leaked from the aircraft.

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, a CBS News aviation and safety expert, said these kinds of problems are normal for new aircraft.

"If you look at the history of aviation, decades ago, new airplanes had many more issues and they often led to fatal results," he said. "Now we catch these problems much earlier."

National Transportation Safety Board investigators traced the fire to a battery in the plane's auxiliary power unit -- typically used to provide heating and cooling when the airplane is on the ground.

In a statement, Boeing said, "Nothing that we've seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events."

Last month, a United Airlines 787 flight made an emergency landing in New Orleans after false warnings from an electrical panel.

"Every new airplane has growing pains," said Sullenberger. "Especially those that push the edge of the envelope in technology."

While both of Japan Airlines' 787s returned to the skies, Boeing's reputation may rest on the Dreamliner staying out of the headlines.

Watch Mark Strassmann's full report, above.