Bad dream for Boeing

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner sits on the tarmac at a Japanese airport following an emergency landing earlier this week.

WASHINGTON — Airlines have grounded nearly all of Boeing’s flagship 787 Dreamliner planes amid continuing safety concerns.

The US Federal Aviation Authority issued a directive to temporarily take the planes out of service while safety checks were carried out.

European regulators have also called for the planes to be grounded.

Boeing said the planes were safe and that it stood by the integrity of the Dreamliner, which has been in service since October 2011.

A string of issues in recent weeks have raised questions about the 787.

Dreamliners have suffered incidents including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire. However, it is the battery problems that have caused the most concern.

Yesterday, another All Nippon Airways flight made an emergency landing because of a battery malfunction. That caused it to ground all 17 of its Dreamliners and Japan Airways followed suit.

The FAA said that airlines must demonstrate battery safety before flights can resume.

The authority added that it had alerted the international aviation community of its airworthiness directive, so that other authorities could take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their countries.

The European Aviation Safety Agency endorsed the directive early today.

So far, all but one of the airlines currently flying Boeing 787s have grounded the planes.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways have grounded their combined fleet of 21 787s.

Alternative airlift

United Airlines, the only US airline currently operating Dreamliners, said it would immediately comply with the FAA’s directive and would begin re-accommodating customers on alternative aircraft.

Chile’s LAN announced it would suspend its three Dreamliners from service in co-ordination with the Chilean Aeronautical Authority

Indian aviation regulators ordered Air India to stop operating its 787s.

Poland’s Lot Airlines, the only European airline currently flying 787s, was due to launch its 787 transatlantic service this week, but cancelled a return flight from Chicago to Warsaw yesterday.

Qatar Airways, which currently operates five Dreamliners, said it had grounded the planes and was “actively working with Boeing and the regulators to restore full customer confidence in the 787”. (BBC)

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