Nightmare for Boeing as firms ground planes

Marion Dakers
THE FEDERAL Aviation Authority  last night ordered all US-based Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes to be grounded until a string of safety issues are addressed.

Earlier in the day two Japanese airlines grounded their fleets after an emergency landing added to a growing list of safety worries.

In the latest mishap on a Dreamliner plane, All Nippon Airways said yesterday instruments aboard a domestic flight had indicated a battery error and smoke, prompting an emergency landing.

Passengers were evacuated from the plane using inflatable slides.

All Nippon and Japan Airways, which together operate around half of the 50 Dreamliners in use worldwide, said they would decide today whether to resume Dreamliner flights tomorrow.

“I think you’re nearing the tipping point where they need to regard this as a serious crisis,” said Richard Aboulafia, a senior analyst with the Teal Group. “This is going to change people’s perception of the aircraft if they don’t act quickly.”

The US National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to Japan to assist the authorities with an investigation.

Boeing said yesterday it “will be working with our customer and the appropriate regulatory agencies”.

The 787, which has a list price of $207m (£129.4m), represents a leap in the way planes are designed and built, but the project has been plagued by cost overruns and three years of delays.

A fire in a lithium ion battery on a 787 caused alarm at Boston Airport last week, while other aircraft have suffered cracked windscreens, brake problems and fuel leaks.

Shares in Boeing fell 3.4 per cent yesterday.