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Last night, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive, requiring American airlines to ground their fleets of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.The European Aviation Safety Agency and other airlines soon followed suit.
Now all of the 50 Dreamliners Boeing has delivered around the world will remain on the ground until further notice.
This is not the first time Boeing has gotten in trouble with the FAA.
In 1979, the aircraft maker’s DC-10 lost its certification for about a month after a crash that killed all 271 people on board, and two on the ground.
Other planes from Airbus and McDonnell Douglas (which merged with Boeing in 1997) have had their problems as well over the years.
In a report on Boeing today, Citi analyst Jason Gursky included a brief history of aircraft groundings by the FAA and individual airlines:
In 1979, the FAA grounded the DC-10 & revoked its type certificate for ~1 month after a tragic crash in Chicago (airline maintenance was at fault).
In 2008, AA grounded its MD-80s to fix wiring. In Nov 2010, Qantas grounded its A380 fleet after a mid-air engine explosion (the A380s were grounded until Jan 11).
Also in Nov, Boeing grounded its 787 test fleet after a mid-air fire (BA shares fell 3% in response & flight tests were grounded for 2 months).
In Feb 2011, United grounded its 757 fleet to allow for maintenance checks that took 60-90 minutes. Last year, American grounded some 757s to fix loose seats.
Also last year, the NTSB recommended that GEnx-powered 787s and 747-8s be grounded to allow for inspections.
We note the FAA has previously come under heat for not being quick enough to ground planes and instead relying on operators self-reporting.
The FAA review of the Dreamliner will address the risk of the jet’s lithium ion batteries catching fire, one of many reported problems that have plagued the Dreamliner in recent weeks.
The administration has provided no timeline for how long the planes will be kept on the ground.
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