MIAMI – Earlier this week, American aircraft manufacturer Boeing put out a statement warning operators of the company’s 787 airliners of a newfound issue with the autopilot.

Lately, there have been several reports of Boeing 787 aircraft on approach into Hong Kong failing to properly intercept the localizer on an ILS (Instrument Landing System) approach.

Boeing 787-9 Everett Factory. Photo: Boeing

Importance of the Localizer


The localizer is the component of an ILS that gives the aircraft using the system lateral guidance on the approach. Typically, when the approach mode of the autopilot is selected, the aircraft will intercept the localizer and track inbound on the final approach course to the runway.

When combined with a glide slope, which is the component of the ILS which gives the aircraft vertical guidance down to the minimum altitude, Pilots have the ability to make an approach to landing without having any visual reference to the airport.

However, the recent bulletin reported aircraft stopping short of intercepting the localizer and instead, flying a constant heading, putting the aircraft 20-30 degrees offset from the final approach course.

Boeing 787. Photo: Boeing

Plagued with Issues


This is another addition to the list of several problems surrounding the 787 that have risen to the surface recently. Back in August, Boeing announced the grounding of eight of the type due to two separate manufacturing defects with the joint between two sections of the fuselage.

Joining the fuselage issue is a problem with the Boeing 787’s vertical stabilizer, involving the point at which the stabilizer joins the top of the cabin. These manufacturing anomalies have caught the attention of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who is now considering reviewing hundreds of aircraft.

Finally, the manufacturer is also dealing with some internal turmoil, as it prepares for a potential shutdown due to a consolidation effort on one of the unionized 787 production plants.

Boeing has had quite the go of it recently, with these 787 issues combined with its ongoing 737 MAX debacle, which have been made all the worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, the company will be able to see some positive progress in the near future, with the potential recertification of the MAX on the horizon.


Featured image: Boeing 787-8 maiden flight over head view. Photo: Boeing

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