ATLANTA, Jan. 17, 2013 – The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday ordered domestic airlines temporarily halt the use of Boeing 787 aircraft because of “a potential battery fire risk”.
The federal agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) ordering the stop. The AD will remain in place until “operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft … demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe,” the agency said in a statement.
United Airlines is the only domestic carrier that operates the 787. The Chicago-based airline operates six of the aircraft.
“The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible,” the FAA said in its statement.
The 787 has caused headache after headache for Boeing. A number of the aircraft have experienced problems, including a cracked cockpit window and a fuel leak in addition to the battery problems.
“Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement. “The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.
“We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity,” Boeing said. “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.”
Earlier Wednesday, a pair of Japanese airlines announced they grounded their Boeing 787 aircraft after a problem forced an All Nippon Airways 787 to make emergency landing.
The All Nippon Airways aircraft made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport in Japan. A battery problem and a burning smell in the cockpit were apparently responsible for the emergency landing, according to a CBS News report.
“The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes,” the FAA said. “The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”
Last Friday, the FAA launched a “comprehensive review” of the plane, but did not initially order any planes be grounded.
“In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification,” the FAA said.
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