Jetstar Boeing 787 Suffers Broken Windshield Above Australia

Yesterday a Jetstar Boeing 787-8 flying from Sydney to Denpasar, Indonesia suffered a cracked windshield en route. The incident occurred while the Jetstar Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was flying over Australia’s Northern Territory. The crew then diverted the aircraft safely to Melbourne.

A Jetstar Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a popular mid-size, long-haul jet. Photo: Vismay Bhadra via Wikimedia

The Aviation Herald reported yesterday on an incident aboard Jetstar’s flight JQ-37. The five-and-a-half-year-old Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registered VH-VKE, suffered a cracked windshield whilst in-flight.

It was at 40,000 feet above Northern Territory, Australia, en route to Denpasar, Indonesia when the incident occurred. The crew decided to divert to Melbourne as a safety precaution, but the aircraft was in the air for a further 2 hours 40 minutes before landing.

Landing occurred without incident and hotels and alternative flights arranged for passengers.

A common issue on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner?

A quick search into similar incidents aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliner reveals that there have been a number of similar reported incidents within the past few years. The Aviation Herald’s incident reports reveal no fewer than 26 other incidents involving cracked windshields aboard Boeing 787s since the end of 2012.

For a young aircraft type, this is a high number of recurrent faults.

Since the start of the year, there have been reports of five other such incidents, all occurring aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners under seven years old.

A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
A Number of Boeing 787 Dreamliners have experienced cracked windshields. Photo: USAFE AFAFRICA via Flickr

In most of these reports, the same familiar ‘spiders web pattern’ is said to have formed across the windshield. While this is a typical cracking pattern seen in strengthened glass, the similarities suggest there may be a common cause behind the incidents.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is a prestigious addition to airline fleets. It offers airlines and their passengers comfortable, long-haul flights with premium seating options. The Dreamliner is a forward-thinking aircraft in many ways. It has an unusual appearance, with its raked wingtips and larger-than-average windows.

It also has a number of unusual internal features, such as mostly electrical flight systems and a stronger air humidifying system which makes it feel as if the aircraft is flying at lower altitudes. But perhaps the most important feature is the fact the aircraft is made primarily of composite materials.

This is a first in the world of commercial passenger jets and the manufacturing process has not yet made its way into the mainstream.

A Jetstar Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is made primarily of composite materials. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Flickr

Boeing states in its Aero magazine that there is a “reduced risk of corrosion and fatigue of composites compared with metal”.

While composites are clearly a strong point of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that its windshields have not been tuned to withstand the different flex characteristics of the composite fuselage.

Either way, airlines will be keen to ensure the issue is resolved as soon as possible so that they do not rack up additional costs from flight cancellations and re-bookings, not to mention repairs.

Unfortunately, Jetstar was not available to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the incident.