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Jan
17

The Grounding of Boeing’s 787

Japan-Airlines-Boeing

Japan-Airlines-Boeing

Q: What’s going on with the grounding of the Boeing 787, the plane of the future? I’m hearing it all over the news.  Is it a big deal?

A: It is if you’re Boeing.

Yes, it’s true the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the grounding of all Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets until they are sure the batteries on the planes are safe.

But there was also a fuel leak on January 13th. On a Boeing 787′ from Japan Airlines . This was the second time such a leak had occurred in only a week, said the Japanese news agency Jiji Press.

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The Boeing was at Narita Airport in Tokyo, where it was being inspected after a first fuel leak, on Tuesday in Boston.

That’s when the U.S. FAA opened an inquiry and then grounded the planes.

Good for them.


The Boeing 787s got off to a really bad start. Hailed as the planes of the future, it seems that their small lithium-ion type battery can catch fire. At least that’s what happened on a 787 today in Japan. And on board a JAL Dreamliner in Boston last week.

Now, United will need to prove to the FAA that there is no battery fire risk on its six Dreamliners.

“Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe and in compliance,” the FAA said in a statement today.

There are some 50 Dreamliners flying in the world, mostly for Japanese airlines, but also for Polish and Chilean carriers.

Overseas operators are not directly affected by the FAA’s emergency airworthiness directive. But in a smart preemptive move, Japanese authorities grounded all of their 787s overnight after All Nippon Airways said a battery warning light and a burning smell were detected in the cockpit and the cabin, forcing a Dreamliner, on a domestic flight, to land at Takamatsu Airport in Japan.

The plane landed safely about 45 minutes after it took off and all 128 passengers and eight crew members had to evacuate using the emergency chutes. Two people sustained minor injuries on their way down the chute.

everyone off

everyone off

ANA and its rival, Japan Airlines (JAL), subsequently grounded their Dreamliner fleets. ANA operates 17 Dreamliner planes, while JAL has seven in service.

Both airlines said the Dreamliner fleet would remain grounded at least through Thursday.

ANA said the battery in question during today’s incident was the same lithium-ion type battery that caught fire on board a JAL Dreamliner in Boston last week. Inspectors found liquid leaking from the battery today, and said it was “discolored.”

Japan’s transport ministry categorized the problem as a “serious incident” that could have led to an accident.

grounded

grounded

Since the 787 — with a body mostly made of carbon fiber — was introduced, it’s had one small problem after another. But the battery issue, which caused an onboard fire at Boston’s Logan Airport last week, was serious enough for the FAA to ground the plane.

Boeing is taking a hit on this, but most industry officials agree, the 787 is a good plane and will have no troubles once the battery issue has been solved.

Japan Airlines' Boeing Co's 787 plane with fuel leak

Japan Airlines' Boeing Co's 787 plane with fuel leak

In the meantime, don’t fly the 787 anywhere until the FAA has given the green light.

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