Photo: United Airlines
The FAA is requiring American airlines to ground their fleets of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, Reuters is reporting.According to the news agency’s Twitter feed, the FAA will work to “develop [a] corrective action plan” to quickly and safely resume operations, and the aircraft’s batteries will be examined.
According to the AP, FAA officials will address the risk of the lithium ion batteries catching on fire.
The grounding will impact only United Airlines, as no other American airlines fly the Dreamliner.
The news comes soon after All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines each voluntarily grounded their fleets of Dreamliners earlier today, after an ANA 787 had to make an emergency landing because of a battery malfunction.
That was the latest in a long series of problems for the 787, including cracked cockpit windows, fuel leaks, computer errors, and a fire in the belly of a Dreamliner on the tarmac at Boston’s Logan International Airport on January 7.
The aircraft’s use of new technologies like composite materials and electrical systems led to delays in its development. The 787 entered service in September 2011, three and a half years behind schedule.
The Dreamliner is the only aircraft certified to use a lithium ion battery, which the FAA allowed only with several “special conditions.”
On January 11, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the Dreamliner that would cover the plane’s design and manufacturing, but the planes were not grounded at the time.
That day, FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta said in a statement: “We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening.”
In its own statement the same day, Boeing said: “Like the 777, at 15 months of service, we are seeing the 787’s fleet wide dispatch reliability well above 90 per cent.”
“Just like any new aeroplane program, we move through these issues and move on,” Dreamliner Chief Engineer Mike Sinnett said in a conference call. “We’re not satisfied until our reliability and our performance are 100 per cent.”
In a statement on the FAA grounding, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney stood behind the 787:
Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.
We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the aeroplanes to service.
Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers.
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