16 Jan 2013

Japan airlines ground all Dreamliners

4:33 pm on 16 January 2013

Japan's two main airlines have grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliners after one was forced to make an emergency landing due to battery problems.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) grounded its fleet of 17 Dreamliners after flight NH 692 from Yamaguchi Ube in western Japan was forced to land at another airport about 30 minutes after takeoff on Wednesday morning.

Japan Airlines has followed suit, saying it would ground its fleet of seven 787s from Wednesday until further notice.

ANA said that there was an error message in the cockpit citing a battery malfunction. All 137 passengers and crew were evacuated once the plane had landed, and there were fire trucks on the runway.

Japan's Ministry of Transport said smoke was seen in the cockpit, but not in the passenger compartment. The source of the smoke is not known. A strange smell was also confirmed.

It is the latest setback for Boeing and its problem-plagued aircraft, called the Dreamliner because it incorporates large elements of new technology and new materials in its construction, the BBC reports.

But seven of the Dreamliners operated by ANA and other airlines have been involved in a series of emergencies in the past few weeks, including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire.

Air New Zealand is to start flying a larger variant of the Dreamliner, known as the 787-9, next year.

Investigations launched

Japanese and American authorities have launched investigations into the manufacturing of the Dreamliner.

Last week, the US Federal Aviation Administration started a broad review of the design, manufacturing and assembly of the Dreamliner.

On Tuesday, Japanese authorities said they would conduct a probe after two successive fuel leaks on a different 787 operated by Japan Airlines.

On 8 January, Japan Airlines reported that a fire broke out on a 787 shortly after it landed in Boston. There have also been reports of brake issues.