All Nippon Airways grounds its 787 fleet after emergency landing
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner problems just went from bad to worse.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways, the new jet model’s launch customer, has decided to ground its fleet of 17 planes, according to several news reports.
The decision came Tuesday evening after an ANA flight had to make an emergency landing because a cockpit message indicated battery problems, the Associated Press reported.
It’s the latest major setback for the technologically advanced but notoriously glitchy 787, which has a global supply chain but is assembled in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.
On Friday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced a comprehensive review of the plane program after a week of malfunctions, the most notable of which was a battery-related fire on a Japan Airlines 787 parked in Boston.
That Jan. 7 fire could have been hot enough to melt the carbon-fiber reinforced plastic that makes up the plane’s shell, according to the results of tests the Federal Aviation Administration performed last year. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the fire, would not confirm to McClatchy Tuesday whether the box kept the fire from damaging anything but the battery.
The FAA now aims to find out what caused the fire, a fuel leak and other worrisome incidents with Boeing’s half-composite, all-electric twin-aisle jet. Nevertheless, the agency agreed with Boeing on Friday that the plane is safe to fly. Several aviation analysts have supported that conclusion, arguing any new plane has “teething” problems and that the FAA review will likely result in minor tweaks to the jet program, not a decertification.
ANA, whose 787s have encountered several problems in the past year and a half, is apparently taking no more chances with whatever might be wrong with its Dreamliners.
ANA spokesman Takuya Taniguchi told the AP that the flight to Tokyo from Ube in western Japan landed at the Takamatsu airport and details of the problem were still being checked.
While every 787’s aft- and mid-fuselage sections are made or assembled in North Charleston, all of the planes that have experienced trouble this year were assembled in and delivered from Everett, Wash.
The North Charleston factory has only delivered four of the roughly 50 Dreamliners in service, all four to Air India.
Boeing was more than three years bringing the 787 to market in September 2011 yet still has nearly 800 more on order. Between the North Charleston and Everett factories, it is now making five per month, a production rate it hopes to double by the end of this year.
The Associated Press and MCT contributed to this report.