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All Dreamliners grounded

Boeing has so far delivered 49 Dreamliners to eight customers
Boeing has so far delivered 49 Dreamliners to eight customers

All Boeing 787 Dreamliner customers have now grounded the aircraft, amid continuing concerns its safety.

Yesterday (17 January 2013) Qatar Airways confirmed it has grounded its Dreamliners “following instructions by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority”.

The FAA had earlier issued a directive ordering all US-based airlines to stop flying the Dreamliner. While this only applied to United Airlines, the fact that the FAA is reviewing the aircraft has led many other countries to do likewise.

In Chile and India, regulators directed national carriers LAN Airlines and Air India to remove their B787s from service, while Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism had already issued a similar order to Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

Ethiopian Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines – which launched its first ever Dreamliner flight to Chicago on Wednesday – revealed they would also follow the FAA directive. LOT’s B787 now remains stranded at O’Hare International Airport, unable to return to Warsaw.

The FAA decision followed a series of incidents involving the aircraft, culminating on Wednesday morning when one of ANA’s Dreamliners was forced to make an emergency landing due to a suspected battery fault.

ANA’s Boeing 787 had just taken off from Yamaguchi Ube Airport in southwest Japan, bound for Tokyo, when it suffered the aircraft’s instruments indicated a problem. Crew aboard the aircraft also reported “an unusual smell” in the cabin. The aircraft made an emergency landing an all 137 passengers and crew disembarked.

Last week, JAL suffered a series of problems with its Dreamliners, including an electrical fire and fuel leaks, while United Airlines and Qatar Airways have both experienced similar electrical issues.

Boeing said it respected the decision to ground the aircraft.

“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,” the company’s chairman, president & CEO, Jim McNerney, said in a statement.

JAL has revealed that its Dreamliner fleet will be out of service until 25 January at the earliest, but the FAA review could take considerably longer. In a statement, the US aviation body said the investigation would be comprehensive, covering the “design, manufacture and assembly” of the aircraft, focusing on “how the electrical and mechanical systems interact with each other”.

Boeing and the Dreamliner customers will be hoping the FAA is able to get to the root of the problem quickly.

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