17 Jan 2013

Most Dreamliners now grounded

9:37 pm on 17 January 2013

Most of the world's fleet of Dreamliners are now grounded after a series of major problems with the aircraft.

About 50 technologically advanced jets are in service worldwide, but 41 have been ordered out of the skies in five countries by Thursday.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner incorporates large elements of new technology and new materials in its construction. In recent weeks, there have ben had issues with planes including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire.

India's aviation regulator on Thursday instructed Air India to ground its fleet of Dreamliners following similar orders from authorities in the United States and Japan. Air India has six aircraft, with 21 on order.

US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration says it must be demonstrated that the lithium ion batteries are safe before flights can resume. United Airlines - the only American carrier flying 787s - operates six planes and they have been grounded.

On Wednesday, Japan's two main airlines grounded their Dreamliners.

All Nippon Airways grounded its fleet of 17 aircraft when the battery fault forced one to land at 30 minutes after take-off on Wednesday morning (local time). Japan Airlines then took similar action, grounding its seven Dreamliners until further notice.

Chile's airline Lan Chile has also stopped flying its three 787s, as has Poland's LOT Airlines, which has two.

Air NZ 'committed' to order

Air New Zealand is to start flying a larger variant of the Dreamliner, known as the 787-9, in 2014 and says it is committed to its orders.

The Dreamliners are set to arrive in the middle of next year. However, the airline will not confirm whether or not it is satisfied with them.