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Hard on the heels of news that Japan’s two largest airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, had suspended all 787 flights, and the cancellation of a scheduled Qatar Airways flight from London to Doha, the FAA has grounded Boeing’s Dreamliner pending a review of the plane’s lithium-ion batteries, the suspected source of at least some of the airliner’s recent problems.
In a statement on its website, the FAA explained the grounding as follows:
As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.
FAA directives only apply to U.S. carriers, and so far United is the only American 787 operator. But it is expected that other countries will follow the FAA’s lead in grounding the planes.
Until today, officials representing Boeing and the FAA continued to insist that the Dreamliner is fundamentally safe, and that the issues are normal “teething” glitches that afflict any new aircraft in its initial in-service period.
Such reassurances, however, rang increasingly hollow as the plane’s problems continued to surface with no sign of either diagnoses or solutions.
The grounding should focus the attention of Boeing and its Dreamliner customers on getting to the bottom of these ongoing problems and fixing them, before the P.R. nightmare becomes a tragedy of an entirely different order.
The ever-growing list of 787-related incidents and responses now includes the following:
About the 787 Dreamliner
The Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airliner, featuring such cutting-edge technology as lithium-ion batteries and a composite-plastic body.
The first 787 was received by ANA in September 2011, and since then about 35 787s have been delivered to eight airline customers, including United.
As of last month, the company had taken orders for 844 Dreamliners, and Boeing hopes to sell as many as 5,000 during the lifetime of the plane.
Reader Reality Check
Are the 787′s problems of concern to you? Would you fly on one anyway?
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