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Japan grounds Dreamliner

Safety shoots deployed on ANA Boeing 787.

TOKYO — Japan’s two main airlines have grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliners after one was forced to make an emergency landing because of battery problems.

All Nippon Airways grounded its fleet of 17 Dreamliners when its flight NH 692 from Yamaguchi Ube was forced to land shortly after take-off.

Japan Airlines followed suit, saying it would ground its fleet of seven 787s from 16 January until further notice.

This is the latest setback for Boeing and its problem-hit Dreamliner planes.

In recent weeks, Dreamliners have suffered issues including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire.

“You’re nearing the tipping point where they need to regard this as a serious crisis,” said Richard Aboulafia, a senior analyst with the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia.

“This is going to change people’s perception of the aircraft if they don’t act quickly.”

On Wednesday, ANA’s flight NH 692 left Yamaguchi Ube in western Japan at 08:10 local time and headed for Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

Earlier reports that smoke was seen in the cockpit were inaccurate, ANA said. The pilots saw a warning on their computer screen telling them there was smoke inside one of the electrical compartments, the airline said. The source of the smoke is not yet known.

The pilots also received a warning that there was a fault in the battery system. ANA said the battery in the forward cargo hold was the same type as the one involved in a fire on another Dreamliner at a US airport last week.

The ANA flight landed at Takamatsu airport at 08:47 TOday after the pilot saw an error message in the cockpit.

“There was a battery alert in the cockpit and there was an odd smell detected in the cockpit and cabin, and [the pilot] decided to make an emergency landing,” said Osamu Shinobe, an ANA vice president, at a news conference.

ANA said that the 129 passengers and eight crew were evacuated, with a number of people sustaining minor injuries.

Dreamliner’s technical problems

* 15 Jan ANA flight NH 692 from Yamaguchi Ube was forced to land shortly after take-off due to battery problems. The airline grounded all of its 17 Dreamliners. Japan Airlines followed suit, grounding its fleet of seven 787s

* 11 Jan ANA reported a crack in the window on the pilot’s side of the cockpit. It caused no problems for the 237 passengers and nine crew on a flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Matsuyama, but the return flight was cancelled. The same airline said another Dreamliner flight, shuttling between Haneda and the southern Miyazaki prefecture, experienced a delay due to an oil leak from a generator inside an engine

* 9 Jan ANA cancelled a 787 flight from Yamaguchi to Tokyo because of a brake problem

* 8 Jan Japan Airlines cancelled a Boston to Tokyo flight after about 40 gallons (151 litres) of fuel spilled

* 7 Jan An electrical fire broke out on board a Japan Airlines Dreamliner shortly after it landed in Boston, following a flight from Tokyo

* 13 Dec Qatar Airways grounded one of its 787s after several manufacturing faults caused electrical problems

* 4 Dec A United Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in New Orleans because of an electrical problem. (BBC)

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