Grounded Dreamliners just the latest bad news for Boeing

Jan 16, 2013

As ANA and Japan Airlines ground their 787 fleets, half world's Dreamliners are now out of action

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TWO of Japan's major airlines have grounded their entire fleets of Dreamliner aircraft following the latest in a string of mishaps to hit the revolutionary Boeing 787.

An All Nippon Airways flight from Yamaguchi Ube bound for Tokyo was forced to make an emergency landing at Takamatsu early today when a smoke alarm went off on the flight deck shortly after take-off. Cockpit instruments indicated a battery malfunction and the pilot also reported a strange smell.

Eight crew members and 129 passengers were evacuated using emergency slides.

All Nippon Airways immediately grounded its fleet of 17 Dreamliners until further notice. ANA's main rival, Japan Airlines, followed suit, grounding their seven planes.

Japan has been far the biggest market for the pioneering new aircraft which came into service just over a year ago. With 24 planes grounded, The Guardian notes that virtually half the world's total fleet of 50 Dreamliners are now out of action.

The Dreamliner was meant to herald the start of a new era in aviation. The planes are made of carbon fibre and other light-weight materials. They are also up to 20 per cent more fuel efficient than traditional aircraft and Boeing claims that Dreamliners will be up to 30 per cent cheaper to maintain than older planes.

But the plane has been best by technical problems. Troubles began even before the Dreamliner went into commercial service with an engine failure reported during testing. Recent emergencies include two fuel leaks, a battery fire, a brake computer fault, a cracked cockpit window and wiring problems.

US airline officials have moved quickly to claim that Dreamliners are safe, saying that new models of aircraft often experience teething troubles.

Around 800 Dreamliners are on order by other airlines around the world.

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