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Bigger, Cheaper... Better?

Are you a nervous flyer? I'm not. And I fly a lot. Which is not to say that I haven't had incidents in aircraft, close calls even. At the end of the day you just have to trust and hope that the person at the controls, can get you safely to the ground, no matter what.

When I first met Bob Pearson, I knew he was that type of guy. He had that friendly confidence about him, an intelligence behind the sparkle in his eyes that could quickly put you at ease. Of course I already knew that because I knew the story of the Gimli Glider. But I didn't know all of it.

He told me about the pressure they were under, the rush to get those brand new Boeing 767s in the air, and keep them in the air, even when there was clearly the need for more training. By his own admission he was, just a little bit, flying by the seat of his pants.

He also realizes, beyond his amazing piece of flying that day, that they were lucky. Really lucky.  So many things, weather, the weight load they were carrying, events happening on the ground,  that all could have changed the outcome that July day. Well, it all worked out.

But Bob also says  he's been watching something else unfold these last few months, the introduction of another brand new Boeing aircraft..the 787 Dreamliner. Air India's maiden voyage with the brand new plane, just landed in Birmingham, England. It's been called a game changer, able to carry more people, using much less fuel.

But there have been problems with this new plane, which has been in and out of service. Electrical problems. Battery problems. And company executives don't want to answer questions about the problems, but instead hold news conferences to promote the new planes.

Asked about these battery troubles during a news conference in Tokyo today, Scott Francher, Vice-President and General Manager of Airplane development at Boeing was quoted as saying, "it is a detailed design question, not the sort of thing we are talking about." Boeing says it has put safeguards in place to prevent future incidents. 

Let's hope they don't have to count on another Bob Pearson any time soon, to get everybody safely to the ground.