Dreamliner Update: FAA Temporarily Grounds 787 Flights in U.S.

UPDATE Jan. 16 6 p.m. EST: CNN reports that U.S. regulators are temporarily grounding all U.S. registered Boeing 787s until they can fix a fire risk linked to batteries on the jetliners. Air travel analyst Rick Seaney said this evening, “Hopefully this is due to an abundance of caution and will be short term,” adding, “if not, it certainly could dampen demand for the aircraft and possibly have airlines in the delivery queue re-evalutating their positions.”

Earlier:

January has not been a good month for the highly-touted Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane. The latest setback: all 787s in Japan have been grounded as new questions about the revolutionary aircraft are being raised.

United Airlines, meanwhile, told FareCompare [Wednesday morning, before the FAA order came down] that its Dreamliners “are flying as scheduled.”

U.S. to Review Dreamliner

All of Japan’s Dreamliners Grounded

The latest incident occurred Wednesday when All Nippon Airways (ANA) reportedly blamed an apparent battery error followed by a smoke warning that led to an emergency landing. Afterwards, ANA and Japan Airlines (JAL) grounded all of their Dreamliner aircraft. The two leading air carriers of Japan operate 24 of the 50 Dreamliners that have been delivered so far.

United’s Dreamliners

United Airlines is the sole U.S. airline flying the Dreamliner (Delta has the plane on order) but has said nothing about grounding any of the six 787s it currently operates. As a United spokesperson told FareCompare, “We inspected all of our 787 aircraft and they are flying as scheduled. We are continuing to support Boeing and the FAA throughout their review.”

First Dreamliner Finally Arrives in U.S.

FAA’s Previously Announced Dreamliner Review

This latest troubling episode comes after a week’s worth of incidents that tarnished the highly-publicized plane’s image and led to plans by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for a comprehensive review of the aircraft. Before this, the aircraft had been plagued by numerous delays and failure to meet delivery dates.

Are the Planes Safe?

It should be pointed out that there have been no reports of any serious injuries in the recent incidents, and as many aviation experts have pointed out, all new aircraft experience glitches as they go into service. Other experts have also noted that no airline would fly any aircraft if it had the slightest concern concern about safety.  The Dreamliner – with its light-weight, carbon-composite construction – has often been called the future of the industry. Boeing is said to be “working with our customers,” but as one news report suggests, its headaches could continue if the problems – or simply the perception of problems – continues.

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Published: January 16, 2013