Boeing Dreamliners Grounded Worldwide - Business Travel News

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Boeing Dreamliners Grounded Worldwide

January 17, 2013 - 10:05 AM ET

By David Jonas

Operators of Boeing's much-heralded 787 Dreamliner have grounded the new planes after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration directed United Airlines to "temporarily cease operations" of that aircraft and recommended aviation authorities in other countries issue similar orders. The directive follows a string of mechanical problems that led to battery failures, smoke and an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways B787. United, currently the only U.S. operator of the Dreamliner, has six in its fleet.

"United is complying with the airworthiness directive and will work closely with the FAA and Boeing on the technical review as we work toward restoring 787 service," according to an airline spokesperson. "We are accommodating customers on alternate aircraft."

"Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe," according to an FAA statement, which added that it would work "to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible."

In addition to United and ANA, which has 17 Dreamliners, the other operators of the airplane are Air India, Ethiopian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lan, LOT Polish and Qatar Airways. According to Boeing, those carriers in aggregate have taken delivery of 51 Dreamliners. A total of nearly 850 B787s have been ordered since 2004 by airlines around the world, including Air Canada, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

Lan said it "will temporarily suspend the operation of its three Boeing 787 aircraft." According to Reuters, Qatar Airways, which has orders for dozens of Dreamliners, did likewise for its current operating fleet of five. Other media outlets have reported that all other operators have followed suit.

ANA and Japan Airlines already had grounded their 787 fleets. As a result, JAL told customers that certain scheduled flights through Jan. 25 have been canceled, including one daily frequency each way between Tokyo Narita and Boston, Narita and San Diego, and Tokyo Haneda and Singapore.

Meanwhile, JAL partners American Airlines and British Airways are offering customers the option to change plans "should they prefer not to travel on a Boeing 787 aircraft."

According to a statement from Boeing president and CEO Jim McNerney, the aircraft manufacturer "is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service."

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